U.S. stock index futures signal lower open

PARIS Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:53am GMT

PARIS Dec 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open for the shortened pre-holiday session on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 down 0.6 percent, Dow Jones futures down 0.42 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.43 percent at 0917 GMT.

* European shares were broadly steady, consolidating their sharp gains of the past five weeks, with volumes set to be thin for the traditionally quiet half-session ahead of the Christmas break.

* A number of European markets such as the French, Dutch, Spanish and UK ones were only trading for half the session, while markets in Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland were closed.

* Talks between Democrats and Republicans to avoid a round of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that could drag the world's biggest economy back into recession remain stalled, with U.S. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner out of Washington for the Christmas holidays.

* Congress was to return to Washington next Thursday while Obama takes a brief Christmas break in Hawaii.

* A 'stop-gap' that puts the fiscal problems off for a while but resolves none of them may now be the most promising alternative in the U.S. budget talks.

* U.S. retailers might not have seen a sales surge this weekend as ho-hum discounts and economic fears give Americans fewer reasons to open their wallets. The acrimonious budget debate in Washington is one of a number of concerns weighing on shoppers, experts said.

* Wells Fargo & Co will pay up to $2.5 million in attorneys' fees and implement certain corporate governance changes under a proposed settlement of lawsuits brought by shareholders on behalf of the company, according to a securities filing by Wells on Friday.

* Google Inc is working with recently acquired Motorola on a handset code-named "X-phone", aimed at grabbing market share from Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

* U.S. stocks finished lower on Friday after a Republican plan to avoid the fiscal cliff failed to gain sufficient support on Thursday night, draining hopes that a deal would be reached before 2013.

* The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 120.88 points, or 0.91 percent, to 13,190.84 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 13.54 points, or 0.94 percent, to 1,430.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 29.38 points, or 0.96 percent, to 3,021.01.