Stock Futures Weaken After Merck Earnings

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were falling Monday as earnings and an outlook from drug giant Merck (MRK) weighed on investor sentiment at a time when markets are near all-time highs.. Investors on Monday were also awaiting Apple (AAPL) earnings scheduled for after the market close and industrial production data.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 1.5 points, or 1.62 points below fair value, to 1,752.5, while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were shedding 13 points, or 19.28 points below fair value, to 15,484. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 0.5 points, or 1.48 points below fair value, to 3,374.3.

The Federal Reserve is expected to kick off its two-day policy meeting Tuesday. A tapering of the Fed's bond-buying program isn't expected to be announced given the economic uncertainties caused by the fiscal overhang and government shutdown in Washington earlier this month.

Markets on Friday finished a choppy week in positive territory, boasting three weeks of consecutive gains, after Amazon  (AMZN), the world's largest online retailer, and shipping leader United Parcel Service  (UPS) posted earnings that bolstered the outlook for the U.S. economic recovery. Meanwhile, a drop in consumer confidence fed speculation the Fed will delay curbing its equity-supportive stimulus program.

Merck (MRK) was shedding 2.56% to $45.35 in premarket trading after the companyposted a third-quarter net income decline of 35% from a year earlier as global sales slid 4% to $11 billion, reflecting the unfavorable impact of patent expirations and a 2% negative foreign exchange impact. Furthermore, worldwide sales of the combined diabetes franchise of Januvia decreased 1% to $1.4 billion in the quarter. Merck narrowed its 2013 non-GAAP earnings outlook to be between $3.48 a share and $3.52 a share.

iPod and iPhone maker Apple is expected by analysts after Monday's closing bell to report fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $7.94 a share on revenue of $36.86 billion. Apple remains the world's most valuable public company, but the earnings are expected to mark Apple's third consecutive quarter of declining earnings from the previous year.  In the year-earlier fourth quarter, Apple posted earnings of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 a share, on revenue of $36 billion. Shares were rising 0.48% to $528.50 in premarket trading.

The spotlight Monday was also on AMC Networks (AMCX). The owner of the Breaking Bad series plans to buy Chellomedia, the international division of John Malone's Liberty Global (LBTYA) in a deal valued at 750 million euros ($1.035 billion) that will allow the New York-based company to distribute its movies and entertainment programming to channels reaching 390 million households in 138 countries.

Crocs (CROX) was sliding 3.8% to $13.16 after after analysts at Piper Jaffray cut their view on the shoe company to "neutral" from "overweight" citing concerns about domestic market trends.

The National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index will be out at 10 a.m. EDT. An uptick of 0.1% is expected after 1.6% slide last month.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 2/32, raising the yield to 2.521%. The dollar was off 0.02% to $79.18 according to the U.S. dollar index.

The FTSE in London was up 0.06% and the DAX in Germany was up 0.15%. The Nikkei 225 in Japan finished ahead by 2.19%, while the Hong Kong Hang Seng closed up 0.48%.

December crude oil futures were rising 5 cents to $97.90 a barrel while December gold futures were slipping $1.20 to $1,351.30 an ounce.

 -- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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

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