* Alcoa beats expectations but cautions of slowdown
* Yum Brands defies China sluggish growth, raises outlook
* Futures off: Dow 37 pts, S&P 0.5 pt, Nasdaq 3.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Oct 10 U.S. stock index futures edged
lower on Wednesday after Alcoa kicked off earnings season by
warning of a slight slowdown in some markets, highlighting
concerns about sluggish global growth, even as its quarterly
results beat expectations.
* Stronger demand for aluminum products from airplane and
automobile producers helped Alcoa Inc's third-quarter
profit beat analysts expectations, but it scaled back its
global aluminum consumption outlook for 2012, citing the
slowdown in China. Alcoa shares lost 1.4 percent to $9 in light
* China's slowdown is expected to rein in corporate earnings
in the third quarter and dent profit forecasts as the world's
second-largest economy feels the effect of the debt crisis in
the euro zone, a key trading partner of the Asian nation.
* Earlier in the week, the World Bank cut its growth
forecast for East Asia on concerns China's slowdown could last
longer than expected.
* Analysts forecast third-quarter earnings of Wall Street's
S&P 500 companies would fall 2.3 percent from the
year-ago quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, which would
be the first drop in U.S. quarterly earnings in three years.
* According to data through Tuesday, 94 companies in the
benchmark S&P index have issued negative outlooks, compared with
22 positive pre-announcements, for a ratio of 4.3, the weakest
showing since the third quarter of 2001.
* Going against general declines was Yum Brands Inc,
which gained 2.1 percent to $67.42 in premarket trading. The KFC
parent company had raised its full-year outlook after sales in
China held up, despite that nation's cooling economy.
* S&P 500 futures shed 0.5 point 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 fell
37 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 3.5 points.
* U.S. engine maker Cummins Inc lowered its 2012
forecast for a second time this year, citing delays in customer
spending due to a weakening global economy, and said it would
cut up to 1500 jobs.
* Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company,
warned that third-quarter profits would be "substantially lower"
than in the previous quarter as a hurricane and maintenance
curbed its oil and gas output and a fire hit its refining
* Earnings from warehouse chain Costco Wholesale Corp
were a bright spot; the company reported a 27 percent
jump in fourth quarter profit, on higher sales and membership
* Coming on the heels of a 2013 profit forecast that was cut
last month, FedEx Corp said it plans to slash costs at
its underperforming express air freight and services divisions,
with profit improvements of $1.7 billion planned at those
operations over the next four years.
* Economic data expected Wednesday include wholesale
inventories for August at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT) and the Federal
Reserve's Beige Book of economic conditions at 2:00 p.m. (1800
* European shares were lower for a third straight session,
hurt by expectations of weak corporate results that may weigh on
equity markets into next month.
* Asian shares fell, with Japanese stocks sliding 2 percent
to a two-month low, on concerns that the corporate results
season will reveal weaker earnings in the face of flagging
global economic growth.