New York - US stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday, as investors looked to the next round of earnings reports for direction in a stock market that has been unable to find its footing after rallying about 30 percent last year.
IBM shares lost 3.6 percent to $181.75 before the opening bell after the world's biggest technology services company missed revenue expectations for a fourth straight quarter amid weakening demand, particularly in growth markets like China.
The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet. Credit: REUTERS
Fellow Dow component United Technologies Corp shed 0.6 percent to $114.30 in light premarket trading after the world's largest maker of elevators and air conditioners reported higher fourth-quarter profit that topped Wall Street estimates, although revenue fell shy of expectations.
After a 29.6 percent jump in the S&P 500 in 2013, the S&P has edged down 0.2 percent so far in 2014.
Investors will closely monitor corporate profits for evidence of growth as the Federal Reserve has started to reduce its market-friendly economic stimulus.
About eight companies have issued negative outlooks for every positive one, which would mark the lowest ratio on record should it continue.
According to Thomson Reuters data, earnings for the fourth quarter are expected to grow 7 percent over the prior year.
Of the 61 companies in the benchmark S&P index that have reported so far, about 56 percent topped analyst expectations, below the long-term average of 63 percent.
About 71 percent have topped revenue forecasts, above the long-term average of 61 percent.
S&P 500 e-mini futures shed 2 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 lost 40 points and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 0.5 point.
Coach Inc tumbled 8 percent to $48.35 in premarket trading after it said sales in North America fell further in the final quarter of 2013, as it lost share in the handbag business to fast-growing rivals such as Michael Kors Holdings Ltd and Kate Spade.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc slumped 9.4 percent to $3.78 in premarket after the chipmaker forecast a steeper-than-expected fall in current quarter revenue, saying sales of gaming consoles were not growing fast enough to offset slowing PC sales.
After the closing bell, earnings are expected from eBay Inc, Netflix Inc, Varian Medical Systems Inc and F5 Networks Inc.
A total of 26 S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report earnings on Wednesday.
European shares pulled back from near 5-1/2 year highs, giving up early gains as mixed earnings reports kept the market from pushing through recent resistance.
Asian share markets rose slightly on Wednesday, led by gains in Chinese shares after China's central bank poured funds into money markets, easing immediate credit strains ahead of the lunar new year. - Reuters