US STOCKS-Wall Street set for flat open after durable goods data

Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:08am EDT

* Durable goods data shows biggest drop in seven months

* P&G slips, Boeing gains after earnings

* Futures: Dow up 15 pts, S&P up 0.1 pt, Nasdaq off 1.25 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a flat open on Wednesday, after a disappointing durable goods report countered enthusiasm over a relatively robust earnings season.

Economic data showed orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods slumped 5.7 percent in March, the biggest drop in seven months, and far below expectations calling for a decline of 2.8 percent.

"It's basically just confirming what we've seen in the economic numbers so far this month, that basically, things weren't quite as good as we thought at the end of the first quarter," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

"I don't expect there to be a massive selloff today but (the data) says the economy is having to work pretty hard to make progress."

The Dow may inch higher, lifted by Boeing Co, which jumped 3.8 percent to $91.50 in premarket trading after the aerospace giant reported first-quarter earnings.

But fellow Dow component Procter and Gamble Co slipped 3.3 percent to $79.80 in premarket trading after reporting third-quarter results and issuing a profit outlook for the current quarter that fell short of Wall Street's expectations.

Ford Motors Co advanced 0.5 percent to $13.42 in trading before the opening bell after the automaker reported a higher-than-expected first-quarter profit as its North American unit enjoyed its best quarter in more than a decade.

Corning Inc gained 2.8 percent to $13.50 in premarket trading after the specialty glass maker's first-quarter profit beat analysts' estimates, helped by strong demand for its scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass used in smartphones and tablets.

According to Thomson Reuters data, 45 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report results Wednesday, including Dow component Aflac Inc, Qualcomm Inc and Citrix Systems Inc after the close.

Apple Inc shares lost 3 percent to $393.84 after the iPad maker bowed Tuesday to investors' demands to share more of its $145 billion cash pile, while posting its first quarterly profit decline in more than a decade.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 point and were roughly even with 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 gained 15 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 1.25 points.

Earnings season has been largely positive, with more than 68.9 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far beating expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning. Since 1994, 63 percent have surpassed estimates on average, while the beat rate is 67 percent for the past four quarters.

Analysts see earnings growth of 2.3 percent this quarter, up from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.

OPKO Health Inc will buy Israel-based biopharmaceutical company Prolor Biotech Inc in an all-stock deal valued at $480 million to expand its portfolio of specialty drugs. OPKO shares dipped 2.6 percent to $6.88 in premarket trading.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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