August 6, 2013 / 11:51 AM / 4 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures nearly flat with indexes near record levels

4 Min Read

* Investors looking for catalysts to spur more gains

* Equities coming off lightest full trading day of 2013

* American Eagle shares plunge in premarket after outlook

* Cognizant Tech rises in premarket trading after results

* Dow up 4 pts, S&P 500 down 2.9 pts, Nasdaq up 2.5 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Aug 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were nearly flat on Tuesday as investors sought new catalysts to extend a recent rally that has taken index to record highs in recent sessions.

Trading volume has been muted, with Monday marking the lightest full-day action of the year, a sign that market participants are largely holding pat near historic levels.

Recent market-moving events have moved to the background. The intense investor focus on Federal Reserve policy has receded after last week's bearish payroll report suggested the Fed would not ease its monetary stimulus soon.

In addition, the corporate earnings season is winding down. While about 100 S&P 500 components are still scheduled to release results, most of the largest bellwether companies have already reported.

"We're in a post-earnings season environment, and it would take a pretty major catalyst to move us significantly higher from here," said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York.

"Still, that we've been drifting higher without any major pullback augurs that there's really support for the levels we're out now. The only thing that could really take us lower would have to be something unexpected."

S&P 500 futures fell 2.9 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 added 4 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.5 points.

The S&P 500 has risen for five of the past six weeks, gaining more than 7 percent over that period. The index closed at an all-time high on Friday, as did the Dow. The S&P's 50-day moving average, currently at 1,692.77, could serve as a support level in any market decline.

American Eagle Outfitters plunged 17 percent in premarket trading a day after the retailer said its second-quarter profit would be hurt by weak sales and margins. A number of analysts subsequently downgraded their views of the stock.

Cognizant Tech rose 3.5 percent to $76 in premarket trading after the company reported a rise of 20 percent in its second-quarter revenue, while Fossil Group Inc rose 9.2 percent to $117.31 before the bell after its results.

Archer Daniels Midland reported a drop in profits as crop supplies tightened in the U.S.

Of the 391 companies in the S&P 500 that reported earnings for the second quarter through Monday, 67.8 percent have topped analysts' expectations, in line with the average beat over the past four quarters, data from Thomson Reuters showed. About 55 percent have reported revenue above estimates, more than in the past four quarters but below the historical average.

Shares of the Washington Post Co will be in focus after Amazon Inc founder Jeff Bezos agreed to buy the publishing company's newspaper assets for $250 million.

Credit Suisse downgraded International Business Machines Corp to "underperform" from "neutral," saying organic growth would be challenging in the future. The firm cut its price target on the Dow component by $25 to $175.

Data on U.S. international trade is due at 8:30 a.m., and the trade gap is seen narrowing to $43.5 billion from $45 billion in the previous month.

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