* Obama requests Congress delay vote on Syria
* Apple falls after unveiling new iPhones
* Futures: Dow flat, S&P off 1.6 pts, Nasdaq off 12.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Sept 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged lower on Wednesday, as the S&P 500 appeared set to pause after six straight days of gains, after President Barack Obama pledged to explore Russia’s diplomatic plan to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
Obama said a Russian offer to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to place his government’s chemical weapons under international control increased the odds of putting off a limited military strike that he is considering, but voiced skepticism about the plan. The strike had been proposed in response to evidence showing the Assad government was behind an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that killed 1,429 Syrian citizens, including hundreds of children.
The President also asked leaders in Congress to put off a vote on his request to authorize the use of military force in order to allow diplomacy to play out.
“I don’t see any compelling reason why the market should sell off here and certainly with the potential international diplomacy bomb being defused, we will move sideways here for the next few days until we get the Fed next week,” said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co in New York.
The Federal Reserve is scheduled to begin a two-day policy meeting on Sept. 17, at the conclusion of which many market participants expect the central bank to announce it will begin to scale back its bond-buying program, which has helped shore up the economy and boost the stock market this year.
Apple Inc shares dropped 4 percent to $475 in premarket trading. Both Credit Suisse and Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowered the stock to a “neutral” rating after the company unveiled new iPhone models Tuesday.
“Apple is a victim of their own success. They have gotten in the unfortunate circumstance where every time they have one of these events, people want them to come out with some groundbreaking technology that is just going to change everybody’s lives - it’s just not going to happen,” Bliss said.
U.S. crude, dipped 0.2 percent, and has shed 3 percent so far this week. Prices of crude ran up 2.7 percent last week as a possible military strike against Syria spurred supply concerns.
The benchmark S&P 500 has gained 3.1 percent over the past six sessions, its longest winning streak in two months, as concerns ebbed about a Western military strike against Syria and as data showed improving growth in China, the world’s second-biggest economy.
S&P 500 futures slipped 1.6 points and were slightly below 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 were flat, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 12.75 points.
Texas Instruments dipped 0.4 percent to $40.14 in light premarket trading after the No. 3 U.S. chipmaker lowered its third-quarter forecast.
Economic data expected on Wednesday includes wholesale inventories for July at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect inventories to have risen 0.3 percent compared with a 0.2 percent drop in June.
Harvest Natural Resources Inc surged 40.7 percent to $5.84 in premarket trading after the oil and gas producer said it was in exclusive talks to sell itself to Argentina’s Pluspetrol in a deal valued at about $373 million including debt.
Chip designer ARM topped the list of European gainers after its partner Apple unveiled two new iPhones, while the receding threat of U.S. military action in Syria helped keep European shares near three-month highs.
Asian stocks stalled after nine days of gains after earlier hitting a fresh three-month high.