By Will Horner
U.S. stock futures slipped after economic data suggested American consumers were holding back on spending in the face of trade tensions and a global economic slowdown.
Stock futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.2%. Changes in futures don't necessarily predict moves after the opening bell.
Data from the Commerce Department Wednesday showed that U.S. retail sales slipped by 0.3% in September. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had been anticipating the data to show a 0.2% rise in sales.
Global stocks, meanwhile, wavered as concerns lingered over Brexit talks and the prospect of a U.S.-China trade deal.
The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index edged 0.1% lower as talks toward a draft plan for Britain to leave the European Union continued. Investors had been anticipating positive news to emerge overnight but were disappointed by a lack of progress Wednesday, said Peter Dixon, a senior economist at Commerzbank.
"We were told there would be a deadline of midnight last night, both sides sounded very positive. Then we woke up and it was still a work in progress and I think that has changed investors' perceptions of where we are," he said.
Even if a deal is reached, questions remained about whether the British Parliament will back it, others cautioned.
"It does look like there is progress but there are hurdles to get something agreed with the EU and then it will be difficult to get it through Parliament," said Christopher Peel, chief investment officer at Tavistock Investments.
The British pound, which had hit a four-month high against the U.S. dollar a day earlier, was flat while the FTSE 100 gauge for U.K. equities slipped 0.3% and the broader FTSE 250 fell 0.3%.
The focus Wednesday will be on the second day of corporate earnings season with a swath of earnings reports from some of the U.S.'s biggest bellwethers.
Before U.S. markets opened, PNC Financial Services Group reported a rise in third-quarter revenue that beat analysts' forecasts. Its share rose 2.5% in premarket trading. Bank of New York Mellon shares rose 1.4% and Bank of America shares were up 2.1% after they too released third-quarter earnings.
Other premarket U.S. moves included McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp., and Cardinal Health Inc., which all saw their share prices rise after The Wall Street Journal reported they were in talks to settle opioid crisis litigation. Shares in McKesson and AmerisourceBergen both surged 7%, and Cardinal Health rose 4.8%.
IBM and Netflix will also report their third-quarter earnings after markets close in the U.S.
Chinese stocks edged lower on concerns that tensions with the U.S. over the Hong Kong protests would make striking a trade deal more complicated.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4% after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a series of bills backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, drawing a strong rebuke from China. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman warned the U.S. against meddling in Chinese affairs and said the bill would damage relations between the two nations.
The development may complicate efforts to reach a trade agreement, analysts said.
"We got sideswiped by those headlines from China," said Stephen Innes, a market strategist for currency broker AxiTrader in Bangkok. "I'm not sure much is going to actually come from it, but it's just another thing to deal with."