U.S. stock index futures point to a lower open Wednesday as investors remained cautious ahead of quarterly earnings reports by major corporations.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.10 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.23 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.04 percent.
Investors are likely to continue focusing on earnings reports with Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD), United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX), WellPoint Inc. (NYSE:WLP), Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Noble Corp. (NYSE:NE) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). These companies are expected to announce their quarterly results Wednesday.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks gained as investor confidence rose on encouraging earnings reports from corporations. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) reported before the market opened that the company’s adjusted earnings rose to $3.38 billion or $1.19 per share in the fourth quarter, up from $3.13 billion or $1.13 per share in the same period the previous year.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) reported that the company’s net income rose to $2.9 billion or $8.62 per share in the fourth quarter, up from $2.7 billion or $8.22 per share in the same period the previous year. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) reported that the company’s net income rose to $5.8 billion or $5.13 per share in the fourth quarter, up from $5.5 billion or $4.62 per share in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors' Home Sales Report showed that the change in the annualized number of existing residential buildings sold during the previous month declined to 4.94 million units in December, from 4.99 million units in November.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.46 percent, the S&P 500 Index was up 0.44 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.27 percent.
Asian stock markets fell Wednesday as optimism about monetary easing measures announced in Japan faded. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Composite dropped 23.89 points, India’s Sensex declined 14.51 points, Japan’s Nikkei fell 222.94 points and South Korea’s Kospi was down 16.11 points.
European stocks were mixed Wednesday amid concerns over the debt burden faced by the euro zone. London's FTSE 100 was up 14.52 points, Germany's DAX 30 fell 1.47 points and France's CAC 40 dropped 2.44 points.