The Dow and S&P 500 index futures edged higher on Wednesday as Bank of America rose after reporting a quarterly profit, but the Nasdaq composite index slipped on weak tech company results.
Bank of America Corp shares rose 1.8 percent to $9.63 in premarket trading after reporting $340 million in net earnings, or nil per share. Analysts estimates were for a per-share loss.
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Citigroup and Goldman Sachs posted strong results this week, also indicating improvement in the financial sector. But JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo disappointed investors.
Tech shares were pressured a day after both Intel Corp and IBM reported disappointing quarterly results, sending the stocks sharply down before the opening bell.
"There was a lot of pessimism going into earnings season, but overall I'm happy with what I'm seeing. Things seem to be improving for banks," said Scott Schermerhorn, chief investment officer at Granite Investment Advisors in Concord, New Hampshire.
"IBM and Intel were weak, but it isn't surprising to see such globally exposed companies hit by weakness in Europe and emerging markets."
S&P 500 futures rose 3.1 points and were above 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 10 points while Nasdaq 100 futures fell 1.75 points.
Equities are coming off their best two-day advance in a month, a rise of 1.8 percent. Those gains came as some disappointments early in the earnings season were offset by strong results from such bellwethers as Johnson & Johnson .
Still, the first report cards from companies in the tech sector suggested reasons for caution. Late Tuesday, Intel gave a weak fourth-quarter revenue outlook while IBM posted third-quarter revenue that came in under expectations.
The tech sector is closely monitored because it is one measures of business spending. Intel fell 4 percent to $21.45 in premarket while IBM lost 4.1 percent to $202.45. Both firms are Dow components.
Earnings for S&P 500 components are seen falling 2.3 percent from a year ago, with the main culprit the slowing global economy. But the latest forecast does mark a slight improvement from estimates last week, according to Thomson Reuters data.
PepsiCo reported a drop in third-quarter earnings, hurt by a stronger U.S. dollar, while Textron's earnings missed expectations, though it raised its full-year profit view.
ASML agreed to buy Cymer , its key supplier of a light-based technology crucial to making a new generation of much smaller chips, for $2.5 billion. The stock surged 65 percent to $79 before the bell.
While earnings have been the primary driver for shares, Europe's debt crisis continues to remain in focus. Shares in Europe <.FTEU3> rose 0.3 percent.
Stocks closed 1 percent higher on Tuesday, lifted by strong results from J&J and Goldman.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)