NEW YORK – Stocks looked to open little changed Wednesday as investors took a step back a day after the market's big rally.
A pause was to be expected after investors showed their first real enthusiasm for stocks in weeks and sent the Dow Jones industrial average up 103 points on Tuesday. There were no big economic reports planned, and markets overseas were mixed, giving U.S. investors little incentive to keep buying.
There were a few major earnings reports scheduled. Retailer Target Corp. released its report a day after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc. helped feed the stock rally with upbeat numbers. And farm equipment maker Deere & Co. also released its earnings.
Dow futures were up 4 at 10,362. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 1.40 to 1,087.80. Nasdaq 100 futures fell 3.25 to 1,836.25.
BHP Billiton's $38.5 billion takeover offer for fertilizer producer Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan turned hostile Wednesday. Potash had called BHP's offer grossly inadequate. The announcement of the bid and Potash's rejection Tuesday helped feed the rally in stocks. Mergers and acquisitions activity tends to lift the market because it shows investors' confidence in the economy.
Still, it's too early to tell if Tuesday's advance, which came on improving economic and earnings numbers, was the start of a turnaround for the market, or a one-shot deal.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.9 percent. In later European trading, London's FT-SE 100 index fell 0.7 percent. Germany's DAX index fell 0.1 percent, while the CAC-40 index in Paris fell 0.4 percent.