Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Bernanke, Apple Meeting

Andrea Tse

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures rise Wednesday as investors digested durable goods numbers, and awaited pending home sales data, the second day of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before Congress and Apple's(:AAPL) annual shareholders' meeting.

The Apple meeting is set to begin Wednesday at 12 p.m. EST. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, is likely to be asked what the iPhone maker plans to do with its massive cash hoard of more than $137 billion.

"We have some rumors about Apple and what they might do today at a meeting ... I'm going to focus on what we see in tech ... and if we really get a solid bounce and Apple stays above ... maybe there's some credence to the rumor," Matthew Cheslock, equity trader at Virtu Financial, told TheStreet late Tuesday, as the tech-heavy Nasdaq rebounded strongly along with Apple.

Apple shares were down incrementally in premarket trading Wednesday.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 17 points, or 2.13 points below fair value, at 13,876. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 1.75 points, or 0.89 points below fair value, at 1494. Futures for the Nasdaq were up by 4.25 points, or 0.27 points below fair value, at 2712.

Major U.S. stock averages rebounded Tuesday from the prior session's swoon after a raft of upbeat economic data and earnings reports, and after Bernanke indicated continued support for monetary easing in his semi-annual testimony before Congress.

Bernanke said, though, that the Fed alone couldn't bear the entire burden of spurring the economic recovery, and urged lawmakers to find alternatives to the sequestration ahead of a March 1 deadline.

Bernanke gives his semi-annual testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in Washington starting at 10 a.m.. He spoke before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.

The Census Bureau reported that durable goods orders fell 5.2% in January after rising 3.7% in December. Excluding transportation, orders rose 1.9% after a 1% increase the prior month. Economists were expecting durable goods orders to fall 3.5% in January and the number to rise 0.2% excluding the transportation component.

At 10 a.m., the National Association of Realtors is forecast to say that its pending home sales index rose 1% after falling 4.3% the previous month.

In overseas action, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was up 0.24% and the DAX in Germany was up 0.33% on Wednesday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index finished up 0.25%, while the Nikkei Average in Japan closed down by 1.27%.

Gold for April delivery was sliding $10 to $1,605.50 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while April crude oil futures were down 5 cents to $92.58 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 9/32, diluting the yield to 1.857%. The dollar was falling 0.27%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

In corporate news, retailer J.C. Penney(:JCP) is expected by analysts Wednesday to post a quarterly loss of 18 cents a share on revenue of $4.08 billion after the closing bell. Shares were up 0.57%.

Groupon(:GRPN), the daily deals site, is forecast to report fourth-quarter profit of 3 cents a share on sales of $638.4 million after the markets close. Shares were rising more than 1%., the Travel Web site operator, said Tuesday that fourth-quarter net income rose 28%, as bookings on its Web sites jumped 33% to about $6.6 billion in the quarter. Shares were popping more than 4%.

First Solar(:FSLR), the solar panel manufacturer, swung to a profit in the fourth quarter but issued first-quarter net income and sales guidance below analysts' forecasts. Shares were plunging more than 14.5%.

Accretive Health (:AH), a provider of services to the health care industry, announced that it will postpone the release of its financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2012, as well as its previously announced investor conference call scheduled for Wednesday, because it is evaluating the timing of revenue recognition for its revenue cycle management agreements. Shares were plummeting nearly 32%.

Edison International(:EIX) booked better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

Target(:TGT) shares were falling more than 2.5% after the company reported that its fourth-quarter gross margin rate declined to 27.8% in 2012 from 28.4% in 2011.

DreamWorks Animation(:DWA) shares were falling more than 2.5% after the company reported a quarterly loss of $82.7 million, or 98 cents a share, including the impact of a write-down of film costs for "Rise of the Guardians" and charges related to the decision to return "Me & My Shadow" back to development.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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