Stock futures wavered Wednesday amid caution over ongoing debt worries in Europe and ahead of an upcoming meeting of world leaders.
Members of the Group of 20 will be meeting Thursday and Friday in South Korea as countries like the U.S. and Japan try to weaken their currency to help stimulate economic growth. A global economic recovery has been slow and many developed countries like the U.S. have struggled to expand at a pace that will cut high unemployment.
Major European indexes all slid as worries grow about debt problems in Ireland. The euro slipped below $1.38. Concerns about mounting government debt in many European countries have dragged down stocks around the world throughout the year. Countries like Ireland and Greece are facing rising debt with little signs of growth.
Gold prices dropped below $1,400 an ounce as the dollar strengthened. Oil prices also fell.
The dollar had been weakening against other currencies in recent weeks because of a recently announced program by the Federal Reserve to buy Treasury bonds in an effort to drive interest rates lower and spark spending and lending.
A weaker currency also makes a country's exports cheaper and more attractive overseas. Japan has been especially active in trying to weaken its currency because its economy is so reliant on companies like Sony Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. that rely on exports.
Traders looking for signs of health in the domestic economy will get a report on first-time claims for unemployment benefits. Economists expect claims fell slightly last week, but still not to a level that indicates broad hiring and not enough to erase a big jump in claims a week earlier.
The report is coming out a day earlier than usual because government offices are closed Thursday for Veterans' Day. The stock market will remain open on the holiday.
Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 12, or 0.1 percent, to 11,301. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 1.60, or 0.1 percent, to 1,209.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 2.75, or 0.1 percent, to 2,173.50.