A specialist is silhouetted with screens at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 10, 2013.(Photo: Richard Drew, AP)
(USATODAY.com) - Wall Street stock futures were sounding a note of optimism on Wednesday morning, but the looming debt-ceiling deadline and so far unsuccessful last-ditch attempts in Washington to avert a crisis kept investor sentiment in check.
Dow Jones industrial average index futures rose 0.4%, Standard & Poor's 500 index futures added 0.5% and Nasdaq index futures were up 0.3%.
The Dow fell 0.9% to 15,168.01 on Tuesday. The S&P 500 index dropped 0.7% to 1,698.06 and the Nasdaq lost 0.6% to 3,794.01.
Unless Congress acts by Thursday, the government will lose its ability to borrow and will be required to meet its obligations by relying on cash in hand and incoming tax receipts. That could mean the U.S. is unable to repay holders of Treasury bills that mature in coming days and would be in default on its debt.
"The market is still relatively calm waiting for the storm to hit tomorrow, when the U.S. will reach its debt ceiling and then default will follow and all hell will break loose," said Francis Lun, chief economist at GE Oriental Finance Group in Hong Kong.
On Tuesday, debt-rating firm Fitch Ratings put U.S. Treasury Bonds on Rating Watch Negative, effectively one step toward cutting the U.S.'s AAA debt rating.
Markets across Asia were diverging. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2% but China's Shanghai composite benchmark lost 1.8%.
In energy trading, benchmark crude for November delivery was down 11 cents at $101.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Contributing: Associated Press