The latest snapshot on the economy by the Federal Reserve helped drive shares down in late-day trading Wednesday in New York and appear to be weighing on stock futures ahead of Thursday's opening bell, with U.S. stocks set to head lower. The Fed's latest Beige Book report showed the economy is struggling to emerge from the recession, and may be doing so too slowly for investors' taste.

Disappointing earnings from the likes of eBay Inc. (EBAY) furthered investor pessimism. Shares of the Internet auction house fell 5 percent in aftermarket trading after the company reported third-quarter profits slumped 29 percent.
Watch for a slew of more corporate earnings reports today, including those from: manufacturing conglomerate 3M Co. (MMM); communications-giant AT&T Inc. (T); Internet retailer Inc. (AMZN); tool-maker Black & Decker Corp. (BDK); drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY); oil-seed processor Bunge Ltd. (BG); credit-card issuer Capital One Financial Corp. (COF); insurer Chubb Corp. (CB); and fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG) -- just to name a few.

More here: Before the bell: Investors' caution reigns amid earnings season

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