(Corrects spelling of Oliver Pursche)
* Google and IBM both rally after reporting results
* S&P has risen for five straight sessions to five-year high
* Apple results due after market closes along with Netflix
* Futures: Dow up 3 pts, S&P down 1.8 pts, Nasdaq up 4 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Jan 23 U.S. stock index futures were
flat on Wednesday, with investors reluctant to make big bets
following a five-day rally that took major averages to levels
not seen since December 2007.
Tech shares will be in focus with earnings due from tech
heavyweight Apple and following strong results from both IBM and
Google, which rallied in premarket trading and continued the
string of major companies outperforming following results.
Investors were also cautious as they awaited another
onslaught of earnings reports, including from Dow component
McDonald's Corp. Apple Inc reports after the
market's close and investors will scour that report for signs
the company can continue to grow at an accelerated pace.
"The market has an upward bias because earnings have
generally been better than most expected, but whether we take
another leg up from here depends on Apple," said Oliver Pursche,
president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New
York. "That is such a heavily watched stock that if it doesn't
come out with strong numbers we could take a pause."
Google Inc rose 5.1 percent to $738.61 in light
premarket trading a day after the search giant's core Internet
business outpaced expectations. Revenue was also higher than
International Business Machines Corp late Tuesday
forecast better-than-anticipated 2013 results and also posted
fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations. The
results helped to allay concerns about the tech sector that
arose when Intel Corp gave a weak outlook last week.
IBM, which is a Dow component, rose 3.9 percent to $203.81
before the bell.
Dow component United Technologies Corp reported
earnings that fell from the prior year, hurt by large
Coach Inc slumped 12 percent to $53.20 before the
bell after reporting sales that missed expectations.
According to the latest Thomson Reuters data, of the 74 S&P
500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 62.2 percent
have topped expectations, roughly even with the 62 percent
average since 1994, but below the 65 percent average over the
past four quarters.
Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings rose 2.6 percent,
according to Thomson Reuters data. That estimate is above the
1.9 percent forecast from the start of earnings season, but well
below the 9.9 percent fourth-quarter earnings forecast from Oct.
1, the data showed.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.8 points and were 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 rose 3
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4 points.
Both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average hit
five-year closing highs on Tuesday, and recent gains have
largely been fueled by a strong start to the earning season. The
S&P has jumped 6.4 percent over the past four weeks.
Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives aim
on Wednesday to pass a bill to extend the U.S. debt limit by
nearly four months, to May 19. The White House welcomed the
move, saying it would remove uncertainty about the issue.
The debt limit issue has been viewed as a market overhang
for the past few weeks, with many investors worried that if no
deal is reached to raise the limit, it could have a negative
impact on the economy.
"We're raising our year-end target from 1,535 to about
1,575, in part because of the strong fourth-quarter earnings,
but also because with the debt ceiling off the table that's a
headwind removed from the market," Pursche said.
(Editing by W Simon and Kenneth Barry)