* Alcoa beats expectations but cautions of slowdown
* Yum Brands defies China sluggish growth, raises outlook
* True Religon exploring sale, shares jump
* Futures off: Dow 37 pts, S&P 0.6 pt, Nasdaq 3.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged
lower on Wednesday after Alcoa kicked off earnings season by
warning of a slight slowdown in some markets, highlighting
concerns about sluggish global growth, even as its quarterly
results beat expectations.
Stronger demand for aluminum products from airplane and
automobile producers helped Dow component Alcoa Inc's
third-quarter profit beat analysts expectations, but it scaled
back its global aluminum consumption outlook for 2012, citing
the slowdown in China. Alcoa shares lost 0.7 percent to $9.07 in
Lackluster growth in China, the world's second-largest
economy, is expected to rein in corporate earnings in the third
quarter and dent profit forecasts as the Asian nation feels the
pinch of the debt crisis in the euro zone, a key trading
Earlier in the week, the World Bank cut its growth forecast
for East Asia on concerns China's slowdown could last longer
"The slowing global growth story has always been an
undercurrent that has been evident in the market place, but it
was hard to take that fact and employ it inside of an investor
trading strategy when you still had central banks flooding the
world with cash and supporting asset prices," said Keith Bliss,
senior vice president at Cuttone & Co in New York.
"So we are at an interesting inflection point in the market
place where people could start focusing on the fundamentals and
examine third-quarter earnings thoroughly" against a backdrop of
slowing global growth and how that will impact the next few
quarters' earnings and equity valuations, Bliss said.
Analysts forecast third-quarter earnings of Wall Street's
S&P 500 companies would fall 2.3 percent from the
year-ago quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, which would
be the first drop in U.S. quarterly earnings in three years.
According to data through Tuesday, 94 companies in the
benchmark S&P index have issued negative outlooks, compared with
22 positive pre-announcements, for a ratio of 4.3, the weakest
showing since the third quarter of 2001.
Going against general declines was Yum Brands Inc,
which gained 3.8 percent to $68.53 in premarket trading. The KFC
parent company had raised its full-year outlook after sales in
China held up, despite that nation's cooling economy.
S&P 500 futures shed 0.6 point and were slightly
below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking
into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on
the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell
37 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 3.5 points.
Economic data expected Wednesday include wholesale
inventories for August at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT) and the Federal
Reserve's Beige Book of economic conditions at 2:00 p.m. (1800
Chevron Corp dipped 1.6 percent to $115.50 in
premarket after the second-largest U.S. oil company warned
third-quarter profits would be "substantially lower" than in the
previous quarter as a hurricane and maintenance curbed its oil
and gas output and a fire hit its refining arm.
U.S. engine maker Cummins Inc lowered its 2012
forecast for a second time this year, citing delays in customer
spending due to a weakening global economy, and said it would
cut up to 1500 jobs.
Earnings from warehouse chain Costco Wholesale Corp
were a bright spot; the company reported a 27 percent jump in
fourth quarter profit, on higher sales and membership fees.
Coming on the heels of a 2013 profit forecast that was cut
last month, FedEx Corp said it plans to slash costs at
its underperforming express air freight and services divisions,
with profit improvements of $1.7 billion planned at those
operations over the next four years.
True Religion Apparel Inc surged 25.7 percent to
$26.40 in premarket trading after the denim maker said it was
evaluating strategic alternatives which could include a possible
sale of the company, after receiving indications of interest
from third parties.
European shares were lower for a third straight session,
hurt by expectations of weak corporate results that may weigh on
equity markets into next month.
Asian shares fell, with Japanese stocks sliding 2 percent to
a two-month low, on concerns that the corporate results season
will reveal weaker earnings in the face of flagging global