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Stock Futures Flat Ahead of Debt Ceiling Vote, Apple Earnings

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were mixed Wednesday as the markets awaited a vote from Washington lawmakers on extending the debt ceiling temporarily, and received some upbeat earnings reports from a number of big tech and blue-chip companies.

McDonald's (MCD) and United Technologies (UTX) shares were edging higher after their announcements Wednesday. Both Google (GOOG) and IBM (IBM) shares were popping more than 4% in premarket trading after their fourth-quarter reports Tuesday evening.

Investors were also looking ahead to Apple's (AAPL) earnings after the markets close Wednesday.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 11 points, or 34.79 points above fair value, at 13,685. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 2.25 points, or 0.11 points below fair value, at 1487. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 1.50 points, or 12.81 points above fair value, at 2752.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is widely expected to vote Wednesday on extending the debt ceiling out to May 19. The decision to temporarily suspend the spending limit is expected to occur between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. EST.

President Barack Obama indicated Tuesday that he would not oppose the plan, while U.S. Senator Harry Reid said he is happy to see the clean debt ceiling legislation in the House, and that it's a "big step in the right direction."

"The worst fears of a disorderly default ... early March won't come to pass apparently," said RBS strategists.

The economic calendar was very thin in the U.S. Wednesday.

The European markets were mostly wavering ahead of the U.S. debt ceiling vote. The FTSE in London was up 0.11% and the DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.01%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished down by 0.10%, and the Nikkei in Japan fell 2.08% as investors remained disappointed at the Bank of Japan's efforts to bolster the economy.

Gold for February delivery was falling $1.30 at $1,691.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while March crude oil futures were up 7 cents at $96.75 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 1/32, diluting the yield up to 1.844%. The dollar was dipping by 0.19%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

In corporate news, Apple (AAPL), the iPod, iPhone and iPad maker, is expected by analysts Wednesday to post quarterly earnings of $13.43 a share on revenue of close to $55 billion.

Shares of the tech giant have fallen more than 20% over the past three months, which has prompted research firms to posit that there may be waning interest in Apple's products.

"The overwhelming problem with Apple has been that it's fallen under the curse of high expectations," said Jeffrey Sica, president and chief investment officer of Sica Wealth Management. "Although Apple was a strong company with great potential for growth, it was priced for perfection which meant that any setback would result in a significant sell off."

Apple reports after Wednesday's close of trading. TheStreet will be live-blogging the earnings reports beginning at 3:45 p.m. EST.

Shares were up fractionally in premarket trading.

Industrial giant United Technologies posted fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday of $1.04 a share on revenue of $16.4 billion, versus the average analyst expectation of earnings of $1.03 a share on revenue of $16.63 billion. The company reaffirmed its 2013 earnings per share outlook of $5.85 to $6.15 a share, saying that it was seeing improvements in order trends. Shares were up 0.49%.

Google, the search giant, posted fourth-quarter earnings growth of 12%. Shares were up 4.57% in premarket trading.

IBM topped Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings estimates, boosted by strength in its software business. Shares were up 4.17%.

McDonald's (MCD) posted fourth-quarter earnings of $1.38 a share on revenue of $6.95 billion, topping the Wall Street consensus estimate of $1.33 a share on revenue of $6.89 billion as the company focused on offering affordable menu options. For the near-term, the restaurant chain expects top- and bottom-line growth to remain pressured, with January's global comparable sales expected to be negative. Shares were rising 0.75%.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) forecast full-year earnings of $1.98 to $2.04 a share, above the current Wall Street target of $1.95 a share, after beating fourth-quarter expectations. The company reported fourth-quarter profit of $1.51 a share on revenue of $10.84 billion, exceeding the average analyst estimate of earnings of $1.50 a share on revenue of $10.58 billion. Shares were rising close to 2%.

Shares of Dell (DELL) jumped Tuesday following reports that Microsoft (MSFT) could invest as $3 billion in an eventual takeover of the struggling PC maker. Shares were up 0.84% in premarket trading Wednesday.

Coach (COH) shares were plunging more than 16% after the U.S. luxury handbag maker reported disappointing earnings and revenue after lackluster holiday season sales.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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