* Apple edges higher after results, revenue outlook
* Aetna earnings miss expectations, U.S. Steel swings to
* Retail sales unexpectedly dip 0.1 percent in September
* Futures up: Dow 3 pts, S&P 2.3 pts, Nasdaq 2.75 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Oct 29 U.S. stock index futures
pointed to a flat open on Tuesday, suggesting the market's
recent rally may have run out of steam as earnings fail to be
another reason to buy with stocks near record highs.
Equities have been on a tear for the past couple weeks, with
the benchmark S&P 500 climbing more than 6 percent on
expectations the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus in place
when its policy committee meets Tuesday and Wednesday.
That policy, which has fueled the market's advance
throughout the year, has been enough to offset an earnings
season with seemingly as many disappointments as bright spots.
In economic news, U.S. retail sales dipped 0.1 percent in
September, compared with economists' expectations of a 0.1
percent increase. Producer prices rose 0.1 percent in September,
"There's a lot of buyer's fatigue in the market right now.
We're up more than 20 percent this year, markets have been
through a lot, and we're sitting at all-time highs. No one wants
to over-commit in that environment," said Oliver Pursche,
president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New
Apple Inc, the most valuable U.S. company by market
cap, late Monday posted a decline in its fourth-quarter earnings
and margins. However, the tech company also forecast
first-quarter revenue of $55 billion to $58 billion, compared
with expectations for $55.65 billion. Shares rose 0.4 percent to
$532 in premarket trading.
With half of S&P 500 companies having reported, 69.1 percent
have topped profit expectations, above the long-term average of
63 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. However, only
53.9 percent have beaten revenue estimates, below the 61 percent
rate since 2002.
S&P 500 futures rose 2.3 points and were 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 3
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.75 points.
The S&P has climbed 6.4 percent since Oct. 8, when it hit
its lowest point during the U.S. government's partial shutdown
and the debate over raising the debt ceiling. The benchmark
index is up 23.6 percent for the year so far, the best annual
gain since 2003, after hitting a series of all-time highs. The
Dow is less than 1 percent away from its all-time closing high.
The gains may make further advances harder to come by,
especially with earnings struggling to serve as broader market
Pfizer Inc reported third-quarter earnings that beat
expectations, though global sales fell 2 percent. Shares of the
Dow component fell 1.2 percent to $30.38 in premarket trading.
Aetna Inc reported adjusted third-quarter earnings
that missed expectations and gave a full-year profit outlook
that was largely below estimates.
U.S. Steep Corp late Monday swung to a third-quarter
loss, hurt by a goodwill impairment charge, while Seagate
Technology Plc reported first-quarter earnings and sales
that missed expectations and gave a revenue outlook that was
also below consensus.
U.S. Steel fell 0.9 percent to $23.20 before the bell while
Seagate sank 4.2 percent to $47.75.
In company news, Michael Kors rose 3.2 percent in
premarket trading after Standard & Poor's said the company would
be added to the S&P 500 as of Nov. 1, replacing NYSE Euronext