* 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 down 10 pts, S&P down 2.6 pts, Nasdaq up 1.75
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Jan 23 U.S. stock index futures
pointed to a flat open 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.
Google Inc rose 5.1 percent to $738.65 in premarket
trading a day after the search giant's core Internet business
outpaced expectations. Revenue was also higher than expected.
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 after
Intel Corp gave a weak outlook last week. IBM, which is
a Dow component, rose 3.8 percent to $203.57 before the bell.
While a number of major companies reported on Wednesday,
including Dow components McDonald's Corp and United
Technologies Inc, the focus for investors may be Apple
Inc, which is due to report after the market closes.
Investors will scour results from Apple, the most valuable
U.S. company, for signs the tech giant can continue to grow at
an accelerated pace. The stock has been pressured recently by
questions raised about demand for Apple's prospects. The stock
edged 0.5 percent higher to $507.34 in premarket trading.
"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."
McDonald's edged higher 0.6 percent $93.55 in premarket
trading after reporting a rise in fourth-quarter earnings,
lifted by an increase in same-store sales. United Tech's
earnings fell from the prior year, hurt by large restructuring
Coach Inc slumped 16 percent to $50.75 before the
bell after reporting sales that missed expectations.
S&P 500 futures fell 2.6 points and were slightly
under 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
10 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.75 point.
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.
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.
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 hung over the market for 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.