NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nasdaq index futures fell on Wednesday after Apple became the latest high-profile company to miss forecasts, though the broader market gained on a report the Federal Reserve was moving closer toward further stimulus for the sluggish economy.
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) results fell short of Wall Street's expectations as the European economy sagged and consumers held off buying its flagship iPhone ahead of a new version expected in the fall. Shares dropped 4.3 percent in premarket trading.
Federal Reserve officials are moving closer to taking more steps to aid the flagging economy, the Wall Street Journal reported late on Tuesday, helping to lift stocks off their lows of the day. Expectations the Fed will act, maybe as early as its rate-setting meeting next week, have been growing. Tuesday's story, while nothing new, helped cement that view.
"The willingness of the Fed to continue to keep rates at a very low point does put a bottom to the stock market and it's that bottom that makes people confident, particularly traders, to continue to come in on these selloffs because they feel there isn't much lower to go," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.
Ford Motor Co (F.N) reported a better-than-expected second-quarter profit on Wednesday, but roughly doubled its forecast for losses in Europe, where a deepening economic crisis pushed industry auto sales to their lowest level in nearly 20 years. The shares gained 0.4 percent to $9.10.
S&P 500 futures rose 6.3 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 116 points and Nasdaq 100 futures were off 7 points.
Wall Street has sold off for three straight days on fears Spain may need a bailout and on signs that the global economy is starting to slow down. Still, despite the pessimism, the S&P 500 is up 6.4 percent this year and is one of the best performing broad stock indexes in the world.
Boeing Co (BA.N) reported a greater-than-expected increase in second-quarter profit and raised its full-year earnings forecast on Wednesday as rising airplane deliveries offset higher pension costs. The shares gained 2.7 percent to $73.97.
Shares in Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) gained 4.6 percent to $85.15 after the maker of construction machinery posted results.
The Commerce Department releases new home sales for June at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). Economists forecast a total of 370,000 annualized units, compared with 369,000 in May.
European shares inched up after early losses on Wednesday as European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said there were arguments for giving Europe's permanent rescue fund a banking license.
Wall Street stocks fell on Tuesday, hit by signs the euro zone crisis is worsening and evidence that Europe's slowdown is hurting U.S. companies, including bellwether United Parcel Service (UPS.N).
Editing by Bernadette Baum, Dave Zimmerman