US pre-open: Stock futures little changed ahead of reports on services, factory orders

US stock futures were little changed as oil prices dropped below $ 50 per barrel and as investors awaited reports on factory orders and the service sector.
West Texas Intermediate crude was at $ 49.19 per barrel, marking the fourth day of losses, after competing producers resisted calls to cut output.

“The recent sharp falls in the oil price reflect OPEC putting the squeeze on non-OPEC producers (primarily shale oil), to see who will blink first,” Schroders said in a note.

In economic data, a report on factory orders is predicted to reveal a 0.4% decline in November, following a 0.7% fall.

ISM releases its non-manufacturing composite index which is expected to show a drop to 58 in December from 59.3 the previous month. A reading above 50 signals expansion.

Markit also publishes its final estimate for the service purchasing managers’ index (PMI) which is forecast to be revised slightly higher to 53.7 in December from previous estimates of 53.6.

In corporate news, AOL gained following reports that Verizon Communications Inc. has approached the company about a potential acquisition or joint venture.

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