Stocks: Gearing up for more earnings

@CNNMoneyInvest April 18, 2012: 8:31 AM ET

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were poised for a modest retreat Wednesday, as investors await the latest news round of corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were about 0.3% lower in premarket trading. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

"Today, in the absence of any real hard news, I think it's going to be earnings [that drive trading], and probably a bit of curbing of enthusiasm after the big move we saw in the equity markets yesterday," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

So far, corporate earnings have come in stronger than expected. Of the 56 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported their quarterly results thus far, 44 have beat analyst estimates, with seven matching and just five coming up short, according to Capital IQ.

But anxieties remain over Europe, particularly over Spain and the question of whether the government in Madrid may be forced to seek a bailout. On Wednesday, German two-year debt reportedly sold at a record-low yield, with investors fleeing to the perceived safety of Europe's largest economy amid the troubles elsewhere.

"It's indicative of lingering anxieties among investors -- the willingness to hold low yields," Luschini said.

The yield on the German two-year note sat at 0.14% early Wednesday. Meanwhile, Spanish bond yields have been trending higher recently, with the 10-year note hovering just under 6%.

U.S. stocks rallied Tuesday as worries about Europe eased and investors parsed the latest round of corporate results. The Dow and S&P 500 posted the best one-day gains since March 13; the Nasdaq had the best gains since December 20, 2011.

Also on Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund boosted its global growth outlook to 3.5% for 2012, up slightly from a previous prediction of 3.3%.

World markets: European stocks were lower in midday trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) slipped 0.4%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany shed 1.0% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) dropped 1.7%.

Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) added 1.0%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong climbed 1.1% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) gained 2.1%.

Companies: After a busy day for tech earnings Tuesday, financials will be back in the spotlight Wednesday.

Bank of New York Mellon (BK, Fortune 500) reported its quarterly results before the opening bell, posting earnings and revenue in line with analyst expectations. PNC (PNC, Fortune 500) reported earnings of $1.44 a share, in line with expectations, on $3.73 billion in revenue.

First Republic Bank (FRC) beat on revenue and reported earnings in line with expectations. The firm also announced that it was initiating a quarterly dividend of 10 cents a share.

Asset manager BlackRock (BLK, Fortune 500) posted earnings of $3.16 a share, beating analyst projections of $3.04, on $2.25 billion in revenue.

Oilfield services giant Halliburton (HAL, Fortune 500) also reported better-than-expected earnings, sending shares up 1.8% Wednesday morning.

Several tech heavy-hitters released first-quarter earnings after Tuesday's closing bell.

IBM's (IBM, Fortune 500) earnings beat analysts' estimates but missed on sales. Shares were down 2.4% in premarket trading Wednesday.

Intel's (INTC, Fortune 500) sales and earnings beat expectations, though the stock was still down 3% ahead of the opening bell Wednesday. Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500)'s earnings also topped analyst estimates, sending shares up 3.3% in premarket trading.

After Wednesday's close, investors will get the latest numbers from American Express (AXP, Fortune 500), eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500) and YUM! Brands (YUM, Fortune 500)

Analysts predict American Express will post earnings of $1 a share, while eBay's earnings are expected to come in at 56 cents per share. YUM! is expected to post earnings of 73 cents a share.

Economy: A report on crude inventories will be released after the opening bell.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the British pound but gained against the euro and the Japanese yen.

Oil for May delivery rose fell 8 cents to $104.12 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $8.30 to $1,642 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.99%. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 27,433.48 46.50 0.17%
Nasdaq 11,010.98 -97.09 -0.87%
S&P 500 3,351.28 2.12 0.06%
Treasuries .56 0.03 4.85%
Data as of 11:29pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET
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