* Durable goods data sharply below expectations
* New York City mostly spared of snow storm
* Caterpillar, Microsoft shares slide after results
* Futures down: Dow 195 pts, S&P 15 pts, Nasdaq 37 pts (Updates prices, adds data, comment)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Jan 27 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were set to open sharply lower on Tuesday, with Microsoft and Caterpillar shares down more than 8 percent each after posting earnings, while an unexpected decline in durable goods orders also weighed on sentiment.
Microsoft fell 8.4 percent in premarket trading the day after the Dow component reported results. The main engine of its historic earnings power, selling Windows and Office to big businesses, is showing signs of waning.
Shares of construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar fell 8.2 percent after its net profit came in below market expectations.
Company earnings are being hurt or helped by lower energy prices, a stronger U.S. dollar and the effect of those on the consumer, said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
“We are waiting to see how those three things play out” across the market, he said, adding the effect on consumers is delayed.
Adding to earnings concerns, a gauge of U.S. business investment plans unexpectedly fell in December, a potential sign that a slowing global growth and falling crude oil prices were starting to have an impact on the economy.
“U.S. equities could come under pressure as investors ratchet down their growth estimates for the U.S. economy,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
“There was just too much hype about the U.S. economy having risen into a new and higher growth channel. We’re still stumbling along.”
S&P 500 e-mini futures were down 26 points and fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract, indicated a sharply lower open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures fell 285 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures lost 62 points.
Other economic data expected on Tuesday includes Markit’s gauge of the U.S. services sector growth at 9:45 a.m. (1445 GMT). New home sales and consumer confidence data are also due shortly after the opening bell on Wall Street.
Worries lingered over Greece’s new anti-bailout government and its implications for the euro zone. The leftist government that came to power in Athens following elections on Sunday looks set on a collision course with the country’s creditors. U.S.-traded shares of the National Bank of Greece fell 17.4 percent in premarket trading.
Market participants were watching a snowstorm that appeared to have spared New York City but continues to pound parts of the U.S. Northeast. New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq spokesmen said Tuesday would be business as usual.
Facebook shares fell 1.1 percent premarket after access to the world’s largest social network and its Instagram photo-sharing site was blocked around the world for up to an hour on Tuesday. The company said the reason was an internal fault and not an outside attack.
Procter & Gamble shares fell 3 percent in premarket trading after the world’s largest household products maker reported a near 31 percent fall in quarterly profit, hurt by a stronger dollar.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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