NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks index futures were
flat Wednesday as the S&P 500 struggled to push above a key
technical level amid continued concerns about the health of the
* The broad-based S&P has traded around its 50-day moving
average for the last four days after falling sharply last week
following a bleak assessment of the economy from the
Federal Reserve. The 50-day average is currently about 1,088.
* Investors have been torn between signs the economy is
slowing and better corporate results.
* Deere & Co reported stronger-than-expected
quarterly profit early Wednesday, helped by robust demand for
its biggest tractors and harvesters in the United States.
* Target Corp also reported quarterly results early
* Applied Materials Inc , Limited Brands Inc
and NetApp Inc are among key U.S. companies
due to report later Wednesday.
* S&P 500 futures fell 0.4 point and were below 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 rose 4
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 3.25 points.
* Investors will watch developments in this year's biggest
takeover attempt as BHP Billiton Ltd , the
world's largest mining group, launched a hostile $39 billion
bid for Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc after
the Canadian fertilizer group's board rejected its offer.
* U.S. mortgage applications leaped to its highest level in
15 months last week as rock-bottom rates lifted demand for home
refinancing loans, the Mortgage Bankers Association said.
* Resource-related stocks will be in focus after crude oil
futures fell 1.3 percent as petroleum inventories in the United
States headed for a record, following an unexpected sharp
increase in crude stocks last week.
* Copper was little changed after hitting a one-week high
earlier in the session as inventory declines offset concerns
about slowing demand in top metals consumer China.
* China's banking regulator has told banks in Beijing to
test for the impact of a plunge in property values below what
is owed on mortgages, a local newspaper reported.
* Analog Devices Inc shares advanced 1.7 percent in
extended trade on Tuesday after the microchip maker posted
quarterly results that topped estimates and gave a
* European stocks dipped in early trade, with a
key index failing to stay above a resistance level pierced in
the previous session. Heavyweight energy shares fell along with
* Japan's Nikkei average rose nearly 1 percent a
day after the index hit an eight-month closing low, though
increases were limited by yen strength against the dollar.
* U.S. stocks rose Tuesday as earnings from Wal-Mart and
Home Depot and a $39 billion takeover bid in the agriculture
sector bolstered confidence in the corporate outlook.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)