* Alcoa up after earnings
* Fed minutes on tap
* Intuitive Surgical forecasts revenue below expectations
* Futures up: Dow 22 pts, S&P 0.5 pt, Nasdaq 5.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 9 U.S. stock index futures were
flat on Wednesday, after the S&P 500 managed to halt a three-day
losing skid, in the wake of earnings from Alcoa and ahead of the
minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting.
* Alcoa Inc gained 2.6 percent to $12.86 in premarket
trade after the former Dow component reported a decline in first
quarter adjusted profit on Tuesday as aluminum prices dropped,
but earnings came in ahead of analysts' expectations.
* S&P 500 companies' first-quarter earnings are projected to
have increased just 1 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters
data showed. The forecast is down sharply from the start of the
year, when profit growth was estimated at 6.5 percent.
* The Federal Reserve is expected to release the minutes
from its March 18-19 meeting. The Fed needs to be more specific
about what economic conditions would prompt it to raise interest
rates from current rock-bottom levels, a pair of top Fed
officials normally at odds on policy said on Tuesday.
* Earnings season gets under way this week, with results due
from companies including retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond
after the close, while financials JPMorgan Chase & Co
and Wells Fargo & Co close out the week with results on
* U.S. stocks advanced in the prior session to snap a
three-day losing streak as investors bought beaten-down social
media and Internet shares.
* The benchmark S&P 500 index managed to hold above its
50-day moving average around 1,840, a key support level. The
index has been able to successfully defend 1,840 several times
over the past month.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 0.5 point and were
about 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 22 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.5
* General Motors Co shares lost 2.4 percent to $33.69
before the opening bell. The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration said the automaker is being fined $7,000 a day
for missing an April 3 deadline to provide information about its
recall of 2.6 million cars for defective ignition switches.
Morgan Stanley cut the stock to "underweight."
* Intuitive Surgical Inc estimated first-quarter
revenue well below analysts' average expectation, mainly due to
a 60 percent drop in sales of its flagship da Vinci robot
system. Its shares slumped 11.4 percent to $434 in light
* European shares rebounded, led by automakers, although
caution ahead of the European earnings season could keep gains
* Asian shares rose after Wall Street reversed a three-day
losing streak, but Japanese stocks dropped sharply after the yen
surged on fading hopes of near-term stimulus from the Bank of
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)