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Stock Futures Steadfastly Flat as Concern Shifts to U.S. Budget

Tickers in this article: AAPL AMZN AZO NE ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were holding firm to sideways trading Wednesday, reflecting a cautious tone given the outstanding questions about Federal Reserve tapering and the fast-approaching Oct. 1 deadline for reaching a deal on the federal budget.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 1.75 points, or 0.63 points above fair value, to 1,690.75. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 3 points, or 27.41 points above fair value, to 15,283. Futures for the Nasdaq were unchanged, or 3.49 points above fair value, to 3,213.25.

Mark Newton, chief technical analyst at Greywolf Execution Partners, said in a note that the number of stocks making new 52-week highs on all exchanges as of Tuesday of last week lagged by far the levels hit in early August, May and January.

"Markets are still in the midst of one of the bigger cycle periods of the month and quarter for trend change," Newton said. "It's also worth noting that momentum continues to register extraordinarily low readings compared to either early August or May highs in the U.S. indices."

In corporate news, AutoZone shares were slipping 0.56% to $412 after automotive replacement parts retailer reported in line fourth-quarter earnings of $3.1 billion with earnings coming in at $10.42 a share versus the average earnings per share estimate of $10.34.

Noble Corporation was popping 3.08% to $39.10 after the offshore drilling contractor said that its board has approved a plan to separate a business comprised of many of its standard specification drilling units, resulting in the creation of two separate and highly focused offshore drilling companies. The drilling units that would be owned and operated by the new company. The company also said that the separation may be preceded by an initial public offering of up to 20% of the shares of the new company.

Amazon has updated its Kindle Fire tablet line, launching 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions of the Kindle Fire HDX to help take on Apple's iPad, which still has the top spot in the tablet market, with 32.4%, according to tech research firm IDC.

Durable-goods orders rose by a slightly better than expected 0.1% in August versus expectations that it would come in flat and after falling by a downwardly revised 8.1%, the Census Bureau reported. Orders excluding the transportation component fell 0.1% versus the expectation of a 1% rise and after declining by an upwardly revised 0.5%. Andrew Wilkinson, the New York-based chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, said in a note that while the report was not weak overall, it does not point to an acceleration of activity and argues in favor of the FOMC's recent decision to await further data points that might indicate sustainability of demand.