NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were poised to take a small step back Wednesday, the final day of a first quarter bolstered by a strong month of March, as a disappointing report on the job market failed to lift investor confidence.
Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq 100 futures were slightly lower.
Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins.
Stocks ended a little higher Tuesday, pushing the Dow to a fresh 18-month high as investors digested mixed reports showing a rise in consumer confidence and continued weakness in the housing market.
Wall Street will reach the end of what has been a fairly solid March. Going into the final session, the Dow is up 5.7% this month, giving the index a 4.5% gain for the quarter.
Economy: ADP released its monthly report on employment before the opening bell, showing that private-sector employers cut 23,000 jobs in March. This was in sharp contrast to expectations of a 40,000 job increase, according to economists surveyed by Briefing.com. This is after cutting a revised 20,000 in February.
ADP has not reported an increase in monthly payroll numbers since January 2008, when 34,000 private-sector jobs were added.
The Chicago PMI, a regional reading on manufacturing, is due at 9:45 a.m. ET. Economists predict the index fell to a reading of 61 in March from 62.6 in February.
Research in Motion (RIMM) reports quarterly earnings after the close of trade. The BlackBerry maker is expected to have earned $1.28 per share versus 90 cents a year earlier.
World markets: Asian stocks finished lower. In Japan, the Nikkei index lost 0.1%, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 0.6%.
In Europe, London's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX all advanced.
The dollar and commodities: The dollar retreated against the pound but rose against the euro and the yen.
Bonds: Treasury prices were little changed, with the 10-year yield holding at around 3.87%.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.44%||3.44%|
|15 yr fixed||2.70%||2.69%|
|30 yr refi||3.46%||3.45%|
|15 yr refi||2.74%||2.72%|
Today's featured rates:
HSBC banker arrested at JFK airport as he prepared to leave the country. He and former trader face federal charges they manipulated currency trades. More
Bernie Sanders takes credit for forcing for forcing Hillary Clinton and the entire Democratic Party to get a lot tougher on Wall Street. But how likely is that to happen? More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
Only 3% of employers offer so-called "vacation stipends" that help pay for their employees' vacations. But those that do make taking time off a must. More