U.S. stock index futures signal steady open

PARIS Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:53am GMT

PARIS Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a steady open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.04 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.05 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.02 percent at 0941 GMT.

* European shares rose early on Thursday in their first trading session following the Christmas break, with investors focusing on Washington's last-ditch efforts to avoid a damaging bout of fiscal tightening next year.

* Efforts to prevent the U.S. economy from going over its 'fiscal cliff' resumed on Wednesday with less than a week to go before the potentially disastrous tax hikes and spending cuts kick in.

* In a sign that there may be a way through the deadlock in Congress, Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner offered to at consider any bill the Democrat-controlled Senate produced. President Barack Obama will try to revive budget crisis talks when he returns to Washington on Thursday after cutting short his Christmas break.

* U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday, dragged lower by retail stocks after a report showed consumers spent less in the holiday shopping season than last year.

* The 2012 holiday season may have been the worst for retailers since the 2008 financial crisis, with sales growth far below expectations, forcing many to offer massive post-Christmas discounts in hopes of shedding excess inventory.

* The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 24.49 points, or 0.19 percent, to 13,114.59 at Wednesday's close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 6.83 points, or 0.48 percent, to 1,419.83. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 22.44 points, or 0.74 percent, to 2,990.16.