U.S. stock index futures point to lower start

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 17, 2012 18:51 hrs

LONDON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 off 0.3 percent, Dow Jones contracts down 0.2 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures flat at 0923 GMT.

* The Nikkei average rallied 2.2 percent on Friday as investors bet Japan's main opposition party will win next month's election and put more pressure on the central bank to stimulate the ailing economy.

* But European stocks pared early gains and turned negative, led by banking shares, as simmering worries about the euro zone's debt crisis and U.S. public finances rattled investors.

* Democrats and Republicans dug in on their long-held opposing positions as President Barack Obama and congressional leaders prepared for budget and tax talks, set to begin at 1515 GMT on Friday.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve released on Thursday the economic scenarios, including a hypothetical sharp slowdown in China, that the biggest banks will use in the next round of stress tests to determine how they would withstand a financial shock.

* Google Inc has held talks with satellite-TV provider Dish Network Corp in recent weeks to partner on a new wireless service that would rival the networks of wireless carriers such as AT&T Inc and Verizon VZ Wireless, the Wall Street Journal wrote on Friday, citing people familiar with the discussions.

* Dell's third-quarter profit slid 47 percent, hurt by lower PC sales, weaker demand from large corporations and the shift to mobile computing, sending shares 2.3 percent lower in after-hours trade.

* Gap Inc posted a bigger quarterly profit on Thursday and quelled fears of a possible slowdown ahead of the holiday season as the retailer raised its profit view for the year, sending its shares up 3 percent after the bell.

* Sears Holdings Corp reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss, but poor demand for popular consumer electronic products took a toll on its same-store sales, triggering a 6 percent fall in the retailer's shares after the close.

* Hertz Global Holdings Inc won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators for its $2.56 billion bid for smaller car rental rival Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group DTG.N, bringing an end to a more than two-year long takeover saga.

* The United States is targeting FedEx Corp and United Parcel Service Inc as part of an expanding crackdown against illegal sales of prescription painkillers, the Wall Street Journal reported. It added the Drug Enforcement Administration's probe investigation has gone on for years, citing company filings, but it has gone largely unnoticed.

* The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 28.49 points, or 0.23 percent, to 12,542.46 On Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 2.16 points, or 0.16 percent, to 1,353.33. The Nasdaq Composite Index was off 9.87 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,836.94.

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