US stocks: Futures point to losses ahead of Fed meeting

New York (Apr 28)  Wall Street remained jittery on Tuesday, with stock-index futures sliding into the red as the Federal Reserve is set to kick off its two-day policy-setting meeting Tuesday, which will be closely watched for any clues on the first rate hike.

A number of disappointing earnings reports also weighed on the benchmarks ahead of the bell, including Ford F, -0.75% which reported a drop in first-quarter profit.

Adding to Monday’s losses, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMM5, -0.27%  dropped 58 points, or 0.3%, to 17,933, while those for the S&P 500 index ESM5, -0.24%  gave up 6.45 points, or 0.3% to 2,098.75. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NQM5, -0.06% lost 4.25 points, or 0.1%, to 4,520, with Apple Inc. AAPL, +1.70%  shares helping cap losses for the benchmark.

U.S. stocks end lower as biotech sector posts loss


U.S. stocks fell Monday, with the Nasdaq Composite snapping a five-session winning streak as the biotechnology sector posted steep losses Photo: Applied Materials

“With the strength in equities of late, investors are looking for any excuse to lock in some profits and Fed meetings tend to provide a prompt,” said Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at stockbroker Interactive Investor, in a note. “However, with a low rate and artificially stimulated global environment equities are still looking to continue their trend higher.”

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting kicks off on Tuesday, but the interest-rate statement isn’t released until Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Investors will be looking for clues as to whether a near-term rate hike is still in play, although a large majority of Fed watchers don’t think the central bank will provide any hints, preferring to keep all options on the table.

For the discussion on Wednesday, the FOMC will have the first-quarter GDP number to include in their assessment of the economy and interest rates.

Tuesday’s data: Consumer confidence, due at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, is expected to climb to 102.5 in April, after surging to 101.3 in March.

At 9 a.m. Eastern, the Case-Shiller home price reading is out, forecast to show continued moderate growth just shy of 5% year-over-year, according Daiwa Capital Markets.

Earnings: Reporting ahead of the bell, Ford Motor Co. F, -0.75%  said profit was down 7% in the first quarter as profitability in North America and Asia was offset by losses in Europe and South America. Shares slipped 1.3% premarket.

Drug maker Pfizer Inc. PFE, +0.17%  reported a slight rise in first-quarter profit, but trimmed its full-year outlook. Shares climbed 1%.

Another drug maker, Merck & Co. Inc. MRK, +4.29%  put on 4.7% after raising its earnings guidance for the full year despite the negative impact of the stronger dollar.

Shares of Coach Inc. COH, -5.50%  slumped 7.8% ahead of the bell after the luxury-goods retailer topped fiscal third-quarter profit expectations, but missed on sales.

Shares of Whirlpool Corp. WHR, +0.68%  dropped 6.5% premarket after the home-appliances maker cut its full-year earnings guidance.

Apple earnings: After Monday’s closing bell, tech giant Apple  AAPL, +1.70%  posted a 33% rise in quarterly profit, boosted by a surge in iPhone sales and solid growth in China. Apple also raised its dividend, by 11%, and its share-repurchase program by $50 billion, to $140 billion. Shares were up 2.6% ahead of the market open. Read: How to play Apple stock after the earnings call

Morgan Stanley lifted its price target on Apple to $166 from $160 and said the company is among its “best idea” stocks.

Other markets: European stock markets SXXP, -1.23%  were lower, with investors there were also taking a cautious stance ahead of the Fed meeting.

Asia stocks closed mixed, with Japanese shares NIK, +0.38%  shrugging off a sovereign credit downgrade by Fitch Ratings.

Metals dropped across the board, and so did energy prices. The dollar DXY, -0.45% was mostly lower against other major currencies.

Source: MarketWatch