US STOCKS-Futures flat as Fed hopes offset Caterpillar
* Fed's Williams sees QE3 expansion next year
* Caterpillar latest bellwether to cut guidance
* Data on home prices and confidence on tap
* Futures: Dow up 23 pts, S&P up 1.3 pts, Nasdaq down 15 pts
NEW YORK, Sept 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday as a pessimistic outlook from multinational manufacturer Caterpillar was offset by hopes the boost from central banks' stimulus will sustain economic growth and markets.
Data on U.S. home prices and consumer confidence scheduled for later on Tuesday could help give the market direction.
Just minutes before markets closed on Monday, Caterpillar Inc cut its 2015 profit outlook, warning that weaker commodity prices would result in a bigger-than-expected decline in demand, sending shares down 1.4 percent to $89.60 in premarket trading.
The news follows lowered forecasts by transportation companies FedEx Corp and Norfolk Southern.
"Caterpillar is another global-reaching firm that's speaking negatively to the pace of the economy, and with slowdowns in Europe and Asia this is something we should get used to," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.
Equities have rallied in recent months on expectations of stimulus from central banks around the world, and announcements of easing earlier this month from the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank have kept the S&P 500 near multiyear highs.
San Francisco Fed President John Williams said on Monday he expected the central bank to expand its bond-buying program next year to more aggressively combat the unemployment rate. He also expects the program to end before the close of 2014.
"Monetary policy has been enough to offset a lot of what we've been worried about lately," Hogan said. "It is acting as a backstop for corporate warnings and Europe fears and keeping us higher in a historically weak month."
S&P 500 futures rose 1.3 points and remained above 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 added 23 points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 15 points.
The S&P 500 is on track for a 7.6 percent gain for the quarter, a rally largely tied to central banks' actions to stimulate their economies. After those gains, many market participants are looking for new catalysts to keep pushing shares higher.
Analysts said investors are probably now participating in "window dressing," where fund managers add some of the latest outperformers to their portfolio.
Investors are looking ahead to July Case-Shiller home price data, due at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT), which is expected to show a 0.9 percent rise. Data on September consumer confidence is on tap for 10 a.m. and is seen rising to 63 from last month's 60.6.
Paychex Inc reported a first-quarter profit that narrowly beat estimates, helped by higher revenue from its human resource services business. The stock fell 5.3 percent to $32.55 before the bell.
Red Hat Inc reported a lower-than-expected adjusted profit as costs rose, and lowered the top end of its full-year revenue outlook on slow growth in its services business.
U.S. stocks closed flat on Monday as an index of German business sentiment declined for a fifth consecutive month in September, showing Europe's strongest economy was moving closer toward recession as the euro zone's debt crisis remains unresolved. Caterpillar's outlook further pressured sentiment going into the close.
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