* Durable goods data shows biggest drop in seven months
* P&G slips, Boeing gains after earnings
* Futures: Dow up 15 pts, S&P up 0.1 pt, Nasdaq off 1.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 24 U.S. stocks were set for a
flat open on Wednesday, after a disappointing durable goods
report countered enthusiasm over a relatively robust earnings
Economic data showed orders for long-lasting U.S.
manufactured goods slumped 5.7 percent in March, the biggest
drop in seven months, and far below expectations calling for a
decline of 2.8 percent.
"It's basically just confirming what we've seen in the
economic numbers so far this month, that basically, things
weren't quite as good as we thought at the end of the first
quarter," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at
OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
"I don't expect there to be a massive selloff today but (the
data) says the economy is having to work pretty hard to make
The Dow may inch higher, lifted by Boeing Co, which
jumped 3.8 percent to $91.50 in premarket trading after the
aerospace giant reported first-quarter earnings.
But fellow Dow component Procter and Gamble Co
slipped 3.3 percent to $79.80 in premarket trading after
reporting third-quarter results and issuing a profit outlook for
the current quarter that fell short of Wall Street's
Ford Motors Co advanced 0.5 percent to $13.42 in
trading before the opening bell after the automaker reported a
higher-than-expected first-quarter profit as its North American
unit enjoyed its best quarter in more than a decade.
Corning Inc gained 2.8 percent to $13.50 in
premarket trading after the specialty glass maker's
first-quarter profit beat analysts' estimates, helped by strong
demand for its scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass used in
smartphones and tablets.
According to Thomson Reuters data, 45 companies in the S&P
500 are scheduled to report results Wednesday, including
Dow component Aflac Inc, Qualcomm Inc and
Citrix Systems Inc after the close.
Apple Inc shares lost 3 percent to $393.84 after
the iPad maker bowed Tuesday to investors' demands to share more
of its $145 billion cash pile, while posting its first quarterly
profit decline in more than a decade.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 point and were roughly even
with 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 gained 15
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 1.25 points.
Earnings season has been largely positive, with more than
68.9 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results so
far beating expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data
through Tuesday morning. Since 1994, 63 percent have surpassed
estimates on average, while the beat rate is 67 percent for the
past four quarters.
Analysts see earnings growth of 2.3 percent this quarter, up
from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.
OPKO Health Inc will buy Israel-based
biopharmaceutical company Prolor Biotech Inc in an
all-stock deal valued at $480 million to expand its portfolio of
specialty drugs. OPKO shares dipped 2.6 percent to $6.88 in