Updated from 6:52 a.m. EDTPremarket futures were forecasting a lower open for stocks in New York Wednesday, as traders assessed the government's new plan to support the financial system and took in a heap of earnings statements. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 30 points at 973 and were 29 points below fair value. Nasdaq futures were down 24 points at 1342 and were 32 points short of fair value. On Tuesday, stocks finished with modest losses, as traders digested the Treasury Department's plan to take a $250 billion equity stake in U.S. banks. The government investment is part of the larger $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to provide assistance to struggling financial firms. Ahead of Wednesday's trading, the Federal Reserve said that Pimco, a unit of Allianz ( AZ), would be the custodian of the government's Commercial Paper Funding Facility, which will buy three-month commercial paper to support money markets. As earnings season hit full stride, chipmaker Intel ( INTC) announced a 12% increase in third-quarter profit, but said its future performance was unclear. Financial firms also released quarterly results, many of which illustrated the deleterious impact of the credit crisis. JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) reported third-quarter profit that slid substantially year over year but nonetheless topped analysts' estimates. Similarly, Wells Fargo ( WFC) said its earnings slid 25% year over year, but the bank beat analyst expectations. State Street ( STT), on the other hand, reported an increase in third-quarter income. Outside the financials, pharmaceutical concern Abbott Labs ( ABT) said its earnings rose 51% year over year and raised its full-year earnings forecast.
Beverage firm Coca-Cola ( KO) said its profit increased 14% year over year and trumped the Street's expectations. Delta Airlines ( DAL), meanwhile, swung to a third-quarter loss that the company attributed to rising fuel costs. Looking at the day's economic data, the Census Bureau reported that retail sales were 1.2% lower in September, worse than a 0.4% decline in August. Economists had anticipated a drop of 0.7%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that, as expected, its producer price index declined 0.4% in September, compared with a 0.9% decrease in August. The New York Fed's manufacturing index for October fell to a record low of -24.6, down from -7.4 in September and much lower than -10 in August. Later, investors will take in the Energy Information Administration's survey of crude-oil inventories for the week ended Oct. 11, and the Fed's so-called beige book of anecdotal economic data. In commodities, crude oil was losing $3.08 to $75.55 a barrel, and gold was falling $2.10 to $837.40 an ounce. Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year note was up 10/32 to yield 4.04%, and the 30-year was gaining 12/32, yielding 4.25%. The dollar was rising vs. the euro but weakening against the yen and pound. Overseas, European markets such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were losing ground. In Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed slightly higher, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished with losses.