MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Market Set For Cautious Start Ahead Of Fed Meeting, Apple Earnings

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica Features Dow Jones Newswires

Federal Reserve starts 2-day policy meeting on Tuesday

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U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a flat open for Wall Street on Tuesday, a day after Nasdaq closed at another record and as investors braced for earnings releases from Apple and other high-profile companies.

Hesitation ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy-setting meeting, which begins later Tuesday, was also seen as a factor in maintaining a tight trading range.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 13 points, or less than 0.1%, to 20,860, while those for the S&P 500 index fell 1 point to 2,385.75, a dip of less than 0.1%. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index rose 5 points, or 0.1%, to 5,636.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index ended at an all-time closing high (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-set-to-rise-after-government-shutdown-averted-2017-05-01) on Monday as shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL), the largest U.S. company by market cap, hit a record. The iPhone maker's stock was up 0.1% in Tuesday's premarket trade, with the company's quarterly earnings report due after the closing bell. See:Apple earnings preview (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-services-likely-to-top-7-billion-this-quarter-2017-04-26).

Read:The annual Apple cash bonanza is here--will $300 billion be enough? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-annual-apple-cash-bonanza-is-here-will-300-billion-be-enough-2017-05-02)

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The S&P 500 index on Monday ended 0.2% higher, while the Dow average finished down 0.1%.

Earnings: A raft of financial updates hit ahead of the opening bell. Shares of Merck & Co. Inc.(MRK) climbed 1.5% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/mercks-stock-jumps-after-profit-and-sales-beat-raised-guidance-2017-05-02) and those of fellow drugmaker Pfizer Inc.(PFE) added 0.3% premarket (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pfizer-reports-q1-profit-beat-revenue-miss-2017-05-02) after both companies beat earnings forecasts.

Luxury-goods retailer Coach Inc.(COH) also beat expectations, sending its shares 3.8%.

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc.(LL) fell 2.2% after posting a bigger loss than forecast (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lumber-liquidators-earnings-miss-expectations-sales-rise-2017-05-02).

Aetna Inc.(AET) inched 0.3% higher after the health-care company's adjusted earnings topped expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aetna-swings-to-quarterly-loss-revenue-falls-short-of-estimates-2017-05-02).

Shares of ConocoPhillips(COP) lost 3% after the oil company unexpectedly swung to a loss in the first quarter.

Check out:7 must-watch earnings reports this week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/7-must-watch-earnings-reports-over-the-next-week-2017-04-29)

Stock movers: Shares of Advanced Micro Devices Inc.(AMD) tumbled 12% ahead of the open, after the chip maker late Monday announced a $73 million quarterly loss (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amd-plunges-more-than-7-after-announcing-largely-in-line-quarterly-earnings-2017-05-01).

Shares of Angie's List Inc.(ANGI) soared 41% after IAC/InterActiveCorp.(IAC) late Monday confirmed it is buying the consumer-recommendation website for $8.50 a share (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/iac-to-buy-angies-list-for-850share-to-combine-it-with-homeadvisor-2017-05-01).

Economic news: The Fed will release its policy statement at the conclusion of its two-day meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

While the central bankers are expected to keep rates on hold at this meeting, analysts are looking for any comments on the recent slowdown in U.S. economic activity. The U.S. gross domestic product for the first quarter grew 0.7%, the slowest pace of growth in three years, data out on Friday showed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-economy-posts-slowest-growth-in-three-years-first-quarter-gdp-shows-2017-04-28).

"Will the Fed acknowledge a slowdown in growth and thus send rate hike expectations lower for 2017? Or are these factors only a temporary drag affected by the Easter bank holiday weekend and a delay in tax refunds, which is likely to be reversed in Q2?" said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a note.

"The Fed's statement should be answering these questions, and based on that, traders will act," he said.

The U.S. central bank is currently expected to raise rates two more times this year.

Read:Fed to signal rate-hike plan in place despite soft economic data (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-to-signal-rate-hike-plan-in-place-despite-soft-economic-data-2017-04-27)

There are no major economic data releases on the calendar for Tuesday, but monthly auto sales are expected to trickle out through the day.

See:

Other markets:European stock markets (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-get-a-lift-from-upbeat-factory-data-greek-bailout-deal-2017-05-02) returned from the May Day bank holiday in an upbeat mood, rising after Greece agreed on a bailout deal with its international creditors (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/greece-and-its-creditors-agree-to-bailout-package-2017-05-02).

Stock markets in Asia closed mainly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-get-a-lift-from-rally-in-tech-stocks-2017-05-01), lifted by regional tech companies.

Oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-claw-off-five-week-lows-with-help-from-softer-dollar-2017-05-02) advanced, while metals were mixed. The ICE Dollar Index was marginally lower at 99.090.

Read:Euro rises after Greece agrees bailout deal with creditors (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/euro-rises-after-greece-agrees-bailout-deal-with-creditors-2017-05-02)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 02, 2017 08:49 ET (12:49 GMT)