* Apple shares up ahead of results
* Applied Materials falls after merger called off
* Futures up: Dow 53 pts, S&P 4.75 pts, Nasdaq 16 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
April 27 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pointed to a modestly higher open on Monday after the Nasdaq and S&P 500 chalked up record high closes on Friday and ahead of Apple’s results after the close.
Investors this week will also be closely watching the results of the two-day U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, starting Tuesday, for clues on when interest rates could be hiked.
“So far, both the economic data and earnings data has been weaker-than-expected and so that means that an imminent rate hike is most likely off the table,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.
A slew of recent sub-par indicators have prompted analysts to downgrade their view of the U.S. economic outlook and to push back expectations of when the Fed will hike rates for the first time since June 2006 until later this year.
Strong results from tech giants pushed the Nasdaq Composite to end at 5,092.09 on Friday, its second straight record high close. The S&P 500 closed at a record high of 2,117.69 points, just above its previous high of 2,117.39 set on March 2.
Apple shares rose 1.63 percent to $132.43 in premarket trading. Analysts expect Apple’s quarterly revenue to rise 23 percent to $56.07 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
“Apple is an undervalued growth stock and has been for many, many years,” Sarhan said. “Even though it is the world’s largest company, its price-to-earnings ratio is still below that of the S&P 500.”
Apple trades at 14.3 times forward 12-month earnings, while the S&P 500 trades at 16.7 times, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 4.75 points and their fair value – a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract – indicated a higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures were up 53 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures were up 16 points.
While markets are at record highs, March-quarter earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to dip 1.3 percent, with revenue dropping 3.5 percent as a strong dollar hurts U.S. multinationals and low oil prices weigh on energy companies, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Applied Materials slumped 6.2 percent to $20.43 in premarket trading after the chip equipment maker’s proposed $10 billion merger with Tokyo Electron was abandoned over U.S. regulatory concerns.
Celladon plunged 73.2 percent to $3.68 after the company said its heart failure gene therapy, Mydicar, failed to meet its main goals in an important trial.
IGATE shares were up 3.4 percent at $47.40 after Cap Gemini said it would buy the technology and services company for $4 billion in cash.
Earnings expected on Monday include General Growth Properties and Hartford Financial Services.
Data expected includes U.S. services sector numbers for April from financial firm Markit at 9:45 a.m. EDT (1345 GMT).