U.S. futures pointed to a lower open Wednesday morning as Wall Street awaited the release of last month's Federal Reserve minutes.
At that December meeting, the central bank decided to wind down its quantitative-easing measures to $75 billion worth of monthly bond purchases from the prior $85 billion. Investors and traders will pore through the minutes carefully in order to divine any additional insight behind the decision.
Meanwhile ADP, which generates about 20% of private paychecks in the U.S, said 238,000 private-sector jobs were added in December vs. estimates for 200,000 jobs. That compares with 215,000 in November.
Late Thursday, chipmaker Micron (MU) widely beat quarterly net-income estimates, helped by an acquisition. Jim Cramer was hesitant about pricing issues arising on the earnings call, but the company remained bullish, further helping the stock. Shares were recently up some 9% in the premarket.
The Container Store (TCS) surprised to the upside on the top line and matched bottom-line expectations, but the storage company's guidance missed consensus and shares fell in premarket trading.
Also, University of Phoenix operator Apollo Group (APOL) beat top-line calls and raising 2014 guidance. Investors gave the stock high marks, sending shares up sharply before the bell.
In other company news, Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally took himself out of the running for the top spot at software giant Microsoft (MSFT). Separately, Sherwin-Williams (SHW) is among several paint manufacturers ordered by a judge to pay $1.15 billion into a fund to remove lead paint in California homes.
Action Alerts PLUS holding JPMorgan Chase (JPM) will pay $2.5 billion to settle claims by U.S. prosecutors that sugget the investment bank remained silent about suspicions that Bernie Madoff was running a massive Ponzi scheme. And AAP holding Apple (AAPL) said it's opening a 10th Apple store in mainland China.
Overseas, European exchanges were lower, while Asian stocks closed mixed.