After moving mostly higher over the course of the previous session, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Wednesday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a mixed open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 8 points but the Nasdaq futures up by 4 points.
While the release of upbeat earnings news from some big-name companies has generated some positive sentiment, traders may be reluctant to continue buying stocks following the recent strength.
Recent gains have lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 to five-year highs, and the markets may wait for additional evidence on the earnings front before seeing any further upside.
Nonetheless, IBM Corp. (IBM) is likely to see early strength after the tech giant reported better than expected fourth quarter results after the close of trading on Tuesday. Shares of IBM are up by 3.7 percent in pre-market trading.
Internet search giant Google (GOOG) is also moving notably higher in pre-market trading after reporting better than expected fourth quarter earnings, although its revenues for the quarter came in below estimates.
McDonald's (MCD) may also be in focus after the fast food giant reported fourth quarter earnings that rose year-over-year and came in above analyst estimates. The company also reported stronger than expected revenue growth.
Fellow Dow component United Technologies (UTX) reported fourth quarter earnings that fell compared to the year-ago quarter but still came in slightly above expectations. The diversified conglomerate also reaffirmed its guidance for 2013.
CSX Corp. (CSX), Texas Instruments (TXN), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and General Dynamics (GD) are among the other well known companies that may see increased activity after reporting their quarterly results.
Shares of Apple (AAPL) may also attract attention, as the iPad and iPhone maker is scheduled to release its fiscal first quarter results after the close of trading.
Stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Tuesday, extending a recent move to the upside. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to the latest earnings news, although buying interest was somewhat subdued.
The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the session at their best levels of the day. The Dow rose 62.43 points or 0.5 percent to 13,712.13, the Nasdaq climbed 8.47 points or 0.3 percent to 3,143.18 and the S&P 500 advanced 6.53 points or 0.4 percent to 1,492.51.
With the gains on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new five-year closing highs, while the Nasdaq ended the session at its best closing level in well over three months.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 2.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index edged up by 0.3 percent.
The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has inched up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index is nearly flat and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.5 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil for March delivery is edging down $0.04 to $96.64 a barrel in its first day of trading as the front month contract. Meanwhile, gold futures are climbing $1.20 to $1,694.30 an ounce. In the previous session, gold rose $6.20 to $1,693.20 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 88.52 yen compared to the 88.71 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.335 compared to yesterday's $1.3321.
by RTT Staff Writer
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