* Investors focus on Fed comments, indexes near highs
* Facebook rises in premarket, trading could be volatile
* Weekly jobless claims, October Chicago PMI data on tap
* Futures down: Dow 27 pts, S&P 2.4 pts, Nasdaq 11.75 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Oct 31 U.S. stock index futures edged
lower on Thursday, suggesting the market's rally may have run
out of steam, as investors digested recent comments from the
The central bank said Wednesday it had a weaker growth
outlook for the U.S. economy, though it held its stimulus
program steady for now, as expected. The comments sparked an
equity market decline, with the S&P 500 snapping a
four-day streak of gains.
The Fed, along with five other major central banks, said
Thursday they would make their web of currency swap arrangements
permanent as a "prudent liquidity backstop" in case of future
global financial strains.
"The market is a little soggy today. Some investors are
viewing yesterday's statement as more hawkish than they would
have liked, and making the swap facilities permanent is a bit of
a confusing move," said John Brady, managing director at R.J.
O'Brien & Associates in Chicago.
The accommodative monetary policies of the Fed have fueled
the market's gains this year, boosting the S&P by more than 23
percent so far in 2013 to hit a series of record highs. However,
that advance has come amid weaker-than-expected economic data
and an earnings season marked by weak revenue, leading many
analysts to call for a pullback.
Earnings and data will continue to be in focus, with weekly
jobless claims on tap, along with the October Chicago Purchasing
Managers Index. While weak data could spur worries about the
pace of economic growth, bullish data may spark concerns the Fed
will scale back stimulus sooner than expected.
Claims are seen falling by 11,000 to 339,000 in the latest
week, while the Chicago PMI is seen falling to 55 from 55.7 last
Facebook Inc rose 3.4 percent to $50.70 in premarket
trading, after reporting strong growth in its mobile advertising
business late Wednesday. Trading could be volatile as the
company said it didn't plan to boost the frequency of ads shown
to users, comments that erased the social networking giant's
steep gains after the market closed Wednesday.
S&P 500 futures fell 2.4 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 slid 27
points and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 11.75 points.
The Dow has gained 3.2 percent in October, while the S&P has
added 4.9 percent and the Nasdaq is up 4.2 percent.
In a pronounced consolidation, the S&P could find support at
its 14-day moving average of 1,740.39, which is 1.3 percent
below its current level.
Expedia Inc soared 19 percent to $59.40 a day after
reporting third-quarter earnings that beat expectations, while
Starbucks Corp dipped 1.6 percent to $79.50 in light
premarket trading a day after giving a disappointing outlook.
Of 313 companies in the S&P 500 that reported earnings
through Wednesday morning, 68.4 percent topped Wall Street
expectations, above the 63 percent beat rate since 1994 and the
66 percent rate for the past four quarters, according to Thomson
Revenue performance has been mixed, however, with 53.7
percent of S&P 500 companies beating expectations, well below
the 61 percent average since 2002, but above the 49 percent rate
for the last four quarters.
"While revenues have been disappointing, I'm not concerned
about the level of the market, since so long as the Fed is
pumping liquidity in, I'm not sure where else there is to go,"
Exxon Mobil Corp, MasterCard Inc and American
International Group are among the companies scheduled to
report earnings Thursday.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, US
Airways Group and American Airlines are considering
giving up takeoff and landing slots at Washington's Ronald
Reagan National Airport to win regulator approval of their $11
U.S. stocks fell Wednesday, with trading volatile after the
Fed's less optimistic outlook on growth. Both the Dow and S&P
had hit record intraday highs earlier in Wednesday's session.