Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, July 31:
1. -- Stock Futures Higher as Wall Street Expects a Fed Rate Cut
U.S. stock futures rose on Wednesday, getting a lift from Apple (AAPL - Get Report) , which was higher after the tech giant beat earnings expectations, and as Wall Street prepared for the first interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve in more than a decade.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 70 points, futures for the S&P 500 were up 5.20 points, and Nasdaq futures rose 30.25 points.
Futures markets are reflecting a near-certainty that the U.S. central bank will cut interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008, likely by 25 basis points. But many Fed-watchers question whether the Fed should cut rates at all as the U.S. economy has posted growth for a record 10 years, unemployment is close to a half-century low, and inflation has been tame.
"What they should do is probably nothing," said Rich Sega, global chief investment strategist at the $145 billion money manager Conning. "But I don't think they'll do nothing."
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Donald Trump stepped up his pressure on the Fed earlier this week, saying in a tweet that "a small rate cut is not enough." He has repeatedly called for the "incompetent" Fed to slash official U.S. interest rates, a step typically only taken when growth is faltering.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday includes the interest rates announcement from the Federal Reserve at 2 p.m. ET, followed by a press conference from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at 2:30 p.m.
The calendar also also include the ADP National Employment Report at 8:15 a.m., the Employment Cost Index for the second quarter of 2019 at 8:30 a.m., Chicago PMI for July at 9:45 a.m., and Oil Inventories for the week ended July 26 at 10:30 a.m.
2. -- Apple Posts Earnings Beat, Wearable Revenue Soars 48%
Apple (AAPL - Get Report) rose solidly in premarket trading Wednesday, up 4.29% to $217.73, after the iPhone maker posted fiscal third-quarter earnings and revenue that topped analysts' forecasts and strength across almost all of its business segments.
A negative was a slight disappointment in iPhone sales, which fell 12% year over year to $25.99 billion, slightly missing forecasts of $26.31 billion.The iPhone accounted for less than 50% of total revenue for the first time since 2012. It's still expected to account for more than 50% of Apple's September and December quarter sales, as new iPhone launches provide a lift.
The tech giant posted third-quarter earnings $2.18 a share on sales of $53.8 billion, higher than consensus estimates of $2.09 and sales of $53.3 billion.
Apple's wearables, home & accessories segment, which covers all hardware offerings outside of iPhones, iPads and Macs, saw revenue rise 48% in the quarter to $5.53 billion, handily beating estimates of $4.59 billion.
"This was our biggest June quarter ever -- driven by all-time record revenue from Services, accelerating growth from Wearables, strong performance from iPad and Mac and significant improvement in iPhone trends," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, in a press release. "These results are promising across all our geographic segments, and we're confident about what's ahead.
Cook noted that Apple will have major launches on its platforms, new services and debut new products in the balance of 2019.
Apple also provided guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter, saying it expects revenue of $61 billion to $64 billion, above estimates of $60.9 billion.
CEO Cook revealed Tuesday that a new credit card offering from Apple created in conjunction with Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) would launch in August, saying that the card is wrapping up a testing phase with Apple employees.
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"Bottom line, while the U.S./China trade issue certainly still represents a near-term headwind, we believe members should stay focused on the longer-term dynamics at work including a growing recurring revenue Services stream that will boost margins and allow for an expanded multiple, and Apple's commitment to being net cash neutral, which will also provide the means for higher earnings per share while providing a floor of support," said Jim Cramer and the Action Alerts PLUS team, which holds Apple in its portfolio.
3. -- Advanced Micro Devices Slides on Weak Revenue Outlook
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD - Get Report) declined in premarket trading Wednesday after the chipmaker reported second-quarter earnings that matched Wall Street expectations but a revenue outlook that came up short of forecasts.
Adjusted earnings in the quarter were 8 cents a share on revenue of $1.53 billion, down from $1.76 billion a year earlier but ahead of expectations of $1.52 billion.
Computing and graphics revenue in the quarter was $940 million, missing expectations of $983 million. Enterprise embedded and semi-custom revenue was $591 million, beating estimates of $544 million.
"I am pleased with our financial performance and execution in the quarter as we ramped production of three leadership 7nm product families," said Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO.
AMD said it expects third-quarter revenue of $1.75 billion to $1.85 billion, below forecasts of $1.94 billion.
The stock fell 5.31% to $32.07 in premarket trading on Wednesday.
4. -- General Electric, Qualcomm, Lam Research to Report Earnings
Reports are also expected Wednesday from Qualcomm (QCOM - Get Report) , Humana (HUM - Get Report) , Spotify (SPOT - Get Report) , Western Digital (WDC - Get Report) , Fitbit (FIT - Get Report) Cirrus Logic (CRUS - Get Report) , Molson Coors Brewing (TAP - Get Report) , Occidental Petroleum (OXY - Get Report) , Lam Research (LRCX - Get Report) , Zynga (ZNGA - Get Report) , Twilio (TWLO - Get Report) and Metlife (MET - Get Report) .Lam Research and Twilio are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.
5. -- Amgen Rises on Earnings Beat, Raised Guidance
Earnings in the quarter for the biotechnology company were $3.97 a share, higher than year-earlier profit of $3.83 and above forecasts of $3.59. Revenue was $5.87 billion vs. $6.1 billion a year earlier but greater than forecasts of $5.7 billion.
Sales of Enbrel, a treatment for inflammatory conditions like arthritis and psoriasis, and the company's top-selling product, rose 5% to $1.36 billion.
The company also raised its guidance for the year, saying it expects earnings of $13.75 to $14.30 a share, up from its prior guidance of $13.25 to $14.30.
"For the stock, shares are up a couple dollars in reaction to the print, and we do not want to discount the solid top- and bottom-line beat with the lower-end guidance raises, however, we still have concerns about where the upside is coming from," said Jim Cramer and the Action Alerts PLUS team, which holds Amgen in its portfolio. "Amgen has reported better-than-expected results from Enbrel for two quarters in a row now, and this is a mature product that is heavily subject to patent risk, as we have written endlessly about."
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