Wall St. set for flat open on mixed earnings reports

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[April 22, 2016]  By Abhiram Nandakumar

(Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were set to open flat on Friday as investors assessed mixed quarterly reports from bellwether companies such as Caterpillar and McDonald's.

With recent economic data indicating a sluggish pace of economic growth globally and crude prices hovering near five-month highs, earnings have become a swing factor for stocks.

The S&P 500 has staged a sharp recovery from a steep selloff earlier this year and is inching toward its all-time high, helped by a recent rebound in oil, a cautious Federal Reserve and companies beating tempered expectations.

The index is up half a percent for the week, having posted gains on the first three days.

"We're back to the every other day theory, bouncing around a little, but I don't see too strong a sentiment either way," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"It's still a very cautious environment," Brown said, adding that the negative tone from the quarterly reports were expected.

At 8:28 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 1 points, or 0.01 percent, with 30,704 contracts changing hands. S&P 500 e-minis  were up 0.75 points, or 0.04 percent, with 211,857 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 7.5 points, or 0.17 percent, on 29,412 contracts.

McDonald's rose 1.6 percent to $127.75 premarket after the company's profit beat estimates.

S&P 500 companies are seen posting a 7.2 percent fall in first-quarter profit, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, and shares of companies failing to beat the already lowered expectations are getting hammered.

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Caterpillar shares were down 2.5 percent at $76.70 after its results.

Heavyweights Alphabet and Microsoft were down 4.7-5.1 percent after both missed profit and revenue estimates.

Starbucks  slipped 3.5 percent after missing sales expectations, while Visa was down 3.5 percent after it cut its full-year revenue forecast.

General Electric was off 0.4 percent at $30.87 after it reported a dip in organic revenue.

(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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