Stocks were showing life early Wednesday as positive results from Amazon ( AMZN - Get Report) and several other bellwether companies looked poised to jumpstart the recently moribund technology sector. Index futures recently showed both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 trading about 3 points above fair value. The 10-year Treasury bond was down 2/32 in price to yield 4.08%, while the dollar rose against the yen and euro. June crude, which has lost 3% since topping out above $75 a barrel Friday, was recently up 9 cents to $72.97. WellPoint ( WLP) kicked off the earnings cascade, saying its first-quarter profit rose 20% to $731.8 million, or $1.09 a share. The health insurer beat on the bottom line, although sales of $13.61 billion were slightly light. Another big story early Wednesday involves chemical company Engelhard ( EC - Get Report), which detailed a plan to repurchase about 20% of its stock at a 17% premium to the market price. The buyback will be financed with debt and is intended to counter a hostile takeover offer made three months ago by Germany's BASF. Two economic reports could shape trading Wednesday. At 8:30 a.m. EDT, the Commerce Department is expected to say durable good orders rose 1.8% in March, and at 10 a.m. the same agency will probably say new homes sold at an annual rate of 1.1 million units last month. A buoyant reading on existing home sales Tuesday raised concerns about the future of Federal Reserve interest-rate policy and sent major stock indices lower, with the Nasdaq falling for the fourth straight session. For the day, the Dow and S&P 500 lost 0.4%, while the Nasdaq lost 0.1%. Amazon rose late Tuesday after reporting a 35% decline in first-quarter earnings to $51 million, or 12 cents a share, reflecting a gain in the year-ago period. The results, which included a 20% gain in sales to $2.28 billion, matched estimates, and the company boosted revenue guidance for the full year. To view David Peltier's video take on today's premarket action,
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Several other companies that are sometimes viewed as proxies for the tech economy had solid results. Wholesaler Ingram Micro ( IM) said first-quarter earnings rose 45% from a year ago on an 8% rise in sales, beating estimates. Electronics contractor Sanmina ( SANM - Get Report) saw its shares surge on a sharply narrowed second-quarter loss and strong guidance. The company sees sales of $2.7 billion to $2.8 billion in the coming quarter. RF Micro ( RFMD) also posted a narrowed quarterly loss and said sales surged 50% on strong demand for its cellphone chips. The company guided to a better-than-expected earnings and sales in the current period. The earnings parade marches on Wednesday, with reports expected from Anheuser-Busch ( BUD), Zimmer Holdings ( ZMN) and ConocoPhillips ( COP - Get Report).