* S&P 500 has struggled to close over 100-day moving average
* Energy to be in focus with Syria situation uncertain
* H&R Block posts wider-than-expected quarterly loss
* Indexes lower: Dow 11 pts, S&P 0.9 pt, Nasdaq 2 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Sept 4 U.S. stock index futures were
flat on Wednesday as concerns grew that there would be a Western
military strike against Syria, though any decision remains
several days away.
* The odds for military action had appeared to ebb over the
weekend after U.S. President Barack Obama said he would seek
Congressional authorization for a strike. While there won't be a
vote until Congress returns from its summer recess on Sept. 9,
key congressional figures backed the plan, suggesting approval
may be more likely.
* In addition, Russia signaled that it hadn't ruled out
agreeing to military action if Damascus were proven to have
carried out a chemical weapons attack.
* The geopolitical uncertainty has been the market's primary
driver over the past week, with investors concerned about the
economic impact of any action. Energy has been the most
impacted, with crude rising 1.3 percent over the past two
weeks as investors bet that a Middle East engagement would hurt
* Adding to the overseas uncertainty, Italian shares
slumped on renewed uncertainty over the survival of the
country's government. European shares lost 0.4 percent.
* S&P 500 futures fell 0.9 point and were even with
fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into
account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures slid 11
points and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 2 points.
* On the S&P 500, investors will be watching the 1,639.88
level, the index's 100-day moving average. The index has risen
above that level in each of the past four sessions, though it
hasn't been able to close above it since Aug. 26, a sign that
near-term momentum continues to stall.
* H&R Block Inc late Tuesday reported an adjusted
quarterly loss that was wider than expected, citing higher
* SAIC Inc and Dollar General Corp reported
results early Wednesday.
* Hain Celestial Group Inc shares will be in focus
a day after the company said that activist investor Carl Icahn
and his entities were cutting their stake in the company by
* While geopolitical issues have been the primary focus for
investors, they will also be watching the latest economic data,
with the July international trade figures out at 8:30 a.m. (1230
* The U.S. Federal Reserve's Beige Book summary of economic
conditions will be released at 2 p.m., and the report will be
closely scoured for any insight into when the central bank may
begin to slow its accommodative monetary policies, which have
fueled the market's gains in 2013.
* Wall Street rose on Tuesday, but pared its gains in
afternoon trading as key figures in Congress announced support
for military action against Syria.