Nasdaq Futures Sink as Apple Shares Plunge

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Nasdaq 100 futures tumbled more than 1% Thursday as shares of Apple plummeted on the back of the tech behemoth's quarterly earnings report. The more evenly-balanced S&P 500 was poised to open with tamer losses.

Today's Markets 

As of 8:39 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 12 points to 13732, S&P 500 futures dipped 1.8 points to 1488 and Nasdaq 100 futures tumbled 39.3 points to 2720.

All eyes were on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Wednesday afternoon as the iPhone-maker stepped up to report its fiscal-first quarter earnings. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company revealed profits that topped expectations, and narrowly avoided the first year-over-year slide in nine years. However, revenues came in short, as did its forward guidance.

Overall, Wall Street was disappointed, questions swirled over whether the company could be losing its touch, and shares nose dived some 10% after hours, sending the stock deeper into bear market territory. While some analysts remain bullish on the stock, the overall tone certainly turned negative.

Jefferies, for example, cut its price target $300 to $500 a share, and slashed its rating from "buy" to "hold." The investment bank said in a note to clients that the "slowdown in iPhone sales is real and material" and that it worries about pressure to the company's margins. UBS, which still has Apple rated a "buy," sliced its target by another $50 to $600 a share.

As Goes Apple so go the Markets 

The company is the world's biggest on public markets by market capitalization, weighing in at close to half a trillion dollars. Big moves in its stock price weighs especially heavily on the Nasdaq, but also can sway the S&P 500. Apple isn't a Dow component, however, so the blue-chip average could hold up best to a big drop in Apple shares. Still, the Dow and S&P 500 are both sitting at the highest levels in five years.

Also in corporate news, 3M (NYSE:MMM) posted fourth-quarter profits that matched expectations and revenues that came in above forecasts.

Traders also had a batch of economic data to parse through.

The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to 330,000 -- the lowest level since January 2008 -- from 335,000 the week prior. Claims were expected to increase to 355,000. The four-week moving average, which smoothes out volatility, is at its lowest since March 2008 while continued claims are at their lowest since July 2008.

A report from HSBC showed China's manufacturing sector growing at its fastest rate in two years. That comes as a bullish signal for the world's second-biggest economy.

"Despite the still tepid external demand, the domestic-driven restocking process is likely to add steam to China's ongoing recovery in the coming months," Hongbin Qu, the bank's chief economist for China wrote in the report.

Oil futures edged up. The benchmark contract climbed 43 cents, or 0.45%, to $95.66 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.43% to $2.822 a gallon. In metals, gold dropped $8.90, or 0.53%, to $1,678 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 dipped 0.15% to 2704, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.35% to 6219 and the German DAX fell 0.01% to 7706.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.3% to 10621 and the Chinese Hang Seng fell 0.15% to 23599.

Follow Adam Samson on Twitter @adamsamson.