U.S. stocks were headed for a weak open Thursday, as a key two-day summit in Europe gets underway.
The Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were lower early Thursday morning. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.
European leaders are under pressure to announce plans to backstop the debts of struggling nations, while also laying the groundwork for future growth. With so many similar summits having come and gone, however, investors aren't betting on any concrete solutions emerging.
Spain has been of particular concern, with its stratospheric borrowing costs threatening to drive it from private markets.
Italy may be in similar trouble. Borrowing costs have been steadily rising, and while the yield on the 10-year bond hasn't yet reached 7% -- it now hovers above 6.2%. Early Thursday, the government auctioned €5.4 billion for 5- and 10-year bonds pushing yields up slightly.
Gerry Davies, a ForexLive currency analyst in London, said the situation in both countries is adding pressure for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to leave this week's summit with some resolve.
"Expectations are pretty close to zero of anything meaningful coming from the discussion," Davies said.
On the domestic front, the Labor Department reported Thursday morning that weekly jobless claims dropped 6,000 to 386,000, slightly more than expected. And the final estimate of first-quarter U.S. GDP growth was in line with expectations at 1.9%.
Later in the morning, investors will be looking to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to issue its ruling on President Obama's healthcare reform law at 10 a.m. ET.
Investors will be keeping close tabs on healthcare-related stocks in light of the Supreme Court's ruling.
Hospitals such as Community Health Systems and HCA, and insurers such as UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Humana, could have a lot to gain or lose on the decision.
Mark Helweg, president of financial technology company MicroQuant, said the court striking down all or some of the law could be welcomed by the market, as symbolic show of restraint on government intervention in the private sector.
U.S. stocks closed with solid gains Wednesday, following strong reports on durable goods orders and housing.
World markets: European stocks were down in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.8%, while the DAX in Germany dropped 2.1% and France's CAC 40 fell 2%.
Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite lost 1% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong slid 0.8%, while Japan's Nikkei gained 1.7%.
Companies: Shares of News Corp. rose in premarket trading after the company's board unanimously approved separating its entertainment side from publishing. Rupert Murdoch will chair both companies.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase fell more than 3% in premarket trading, after The New York Times reported that losses on the bank's erroneous bet on credit derivatives might total $9 billion -- far higher than the $2 billion previously estimated in May.
Family Dollar'sstock sank more than 7% in premarket trading, after the operator of discount chains reported earnings and revenue that fell short of expectations, and reaffirmed its guidance.
Nike and Research In Motion will report their quarterly earnings after the closing bell.
Nike is expected to post earnings of $1.37 a share on $6.5 billion in revenue. Research In Motion is expected to report a loss of one cent per share on $3.1 billion in revenue, which would be a 37% drop versus last year.
Currencies and commodities: The dollar rose against the euro and British pound, but fell against the Japanese yen.
Oil for August delivery slid 25 cents to $79.96 a barrel.
Gold futures for August delivery fell $9.90 to $1,568.50 an ounce.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.59% from 1.62% late Wednesday.