Stock Futures Slip Reflects Doubts Markets Can Go Much Higher

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were slipping Thursday despite better-than-expected earnings from Facebook ( FB) and data on durable goods orders that suggests the U.S. recovery may be gaining steam.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 6 points, or 2.89 points below fair value, to 1,677.75.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were behind by 70 points, or 48.24 points below fair value, to 15,430. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising by 4 points, or 17.74 points above fair value, to 3,052 as Facebook soared 23.2% to $32.66 in premarket trading after beating second-quarter earnings estimates on Wednesday, led by strength in mobile revenue.

The social networking giant earned 19 cents a share on revenue of $1.813 billion for the quarter, as mobile advertising revenue accounted for 41% of advertising revenue. Total advertising revenue was $1.6 billion, 88% of total revenue, and up 61% from last year.

The S&P 500 slipped Wednesday, shying away from topping the 1,700 mark after coming within just points of what would have been a milestone mark for the index as caution prevailed.

Many on Wall Street remain skeptical that U.S. equities can make further additional gains after having already been boosted by investors optimistic that the Federal Reserve will sustain the stimulus measures that have lifted stock markets for more than 18 months. Better-than-expected earnings have provided a boost to sentiment though investors appear cautious about becoming further invested in this market.

"The S&P 500 is dealing with psychological resistance at 1700 and is very overbought on a short-term basis," Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ in Manhattan, said in a note. "We believe that once this price consolidation ends, the "500" could head up to the 1750 to 1765 area, based on the size of the recent reversal pattern and a Fibonacci extension based on the size of the latest pullback."

General Motors ( GM) was rising 2.05% to $37.90 after the automaker beat Wall Street's earnings estimates, reflecting continuing gains in the U.S. market and a narrower-than-expected European loss of $110 million. Excluding items, the automaker earned 84 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected 75 cents. Revenue rose 3% to $39.1 billion. Analysts had estimated $38.4 billion.

Visa ( V) was popping 2.28% to $191 after swinging to a profit in its fiscal third quarter, posting earnings of $1.23 billion, or $1.88 a share, a reversal from the year-earlier loss of $1.84 billion, or $2.74 a share. Visa processed 15 billion transactions during the quarter, up 14% from last year.

3M ( MMM) was slipping 0.8% to $115.40 after the company that makes products ranging from Scotch tape to dental braces posted second-quarter earnings of $1.71 a share on revenue of $7.75 billion, versus the average analyst estimate of $1.70 a share on revenue of $7.77 billion, and maintained its full year outlook. The company posted sales increases at all divisions except for electronics and energy, which saw a 3.2% decline.

Amazon.com ( AMZN) reports second-quarter earnings after Thursday's closing bell and Wall Street expects the world's largest online retailer to post a profit of 5 cents a share on revenue of $15.73 billion. Growth in U.S. revenue is expected to remain strong while weakness persists in Europe. Amazon earned $7 million, or 1 cent a share, on revenue of $12.83 billion a year earlier. Shares were up 0.02% to $299.

Initial jobless claims increased by 7,000 to a higher than expected 343,000 in the week ended July 20, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists on average were expected a gain to 340,000. However, the four-week moving average, which irons out week-to-week volatility, decreased 1,250 to 345,250.

Out at the same time were durable goods orders numbers. Durable goods orders rose by a greater than expected 4.2% in June, after increasing by an upwardly-revised 5.2% in May, according to the Census Bureau. Economists were forecasting a 1.3% rise. Excluding the transportation component, orders were flat, compared with an upwardly-revised 1% uptick the prior month. Economists were expecting a 0.5% increase excluding transportation.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was off 2/32, boosting the yield to 2.601%.The dollar was rising 0.09% to $82.37 according to the U.S. dollar index.

Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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