Could Apple turn the tide for stocks?

Apple store in Nanjing, China.
Wall Street awaits Apple earnings: Here's what to expect   

If earnings are going to turn the tide for stocks, this may be the week and Tuesday could be the day — and Apple could be the stock.

Tuesday morning is busy with blue chip earnings, like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and 3M, but it's Apple's after-the-bell report that might matter most. Apple is expected have earned $3.23 per share in its fiscal first quarter on revenue of $76.6 billion.

The Fed also begins its two-day meeting Tuesday, and while it is not expected to take any action on rates, traders are hopeful it will make some reassuring comments about market volatility and offer some guidance on rate hikes. The central bank has forecast four rate increases for this year, while the market is expecting one. The Fed is scheduled to release its post-meeting statement Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.

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A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

"They could word their statement to be more supportive of the markets. That's what I'd be looking for," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading. He said, however, the Fed should just "let the market play out a little bit."

"There's actually fundamental negatives why this market should correct. If you try to prop the market up with weak fundamentals, you're going to get hurt," he said.

He said the market continues to trade macro trends over micro. For instance, American Express was slammed after its earnings but the overall market was not impacted by it.

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"I do think that Apple when it comes out of after the close, is going to have a big influence, just because it's so widely held. With those other names you need a serious outlier headline," said O'Rourke.

Earnings are also expected from Lockheed Martin, DuPont, Coach, Danaher, Freeport-McMoRan, Siemens, Corning, Janus and AK Steel, ahead of the open. AT&T, Stryker, VMWare, Capital One, Ethan Allen, U.S. Steel and Canadian National Railway report after the close.

"I think we're going to hear from probably a quarter of the S&P 500 this week. By the end of the week, it'll give everybody a sense of what's going on with earnings. Analysts forecasts for Q4 were pretty ugly — down 6 percent or so," said Jack Ablin, CIO at BMO private Bank.

As of Monday morning, 76 S&P 500 companies reported and 70 percent had beat earnings estimates. But they continue to miss on the revenue side and 54 percent have come in under expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. Based on forecasts and actual reports, earnings are now expected to be down 4.5 percent for the quarter.

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"The average stock is already off over 20 percent. The indices aren't, largely because of the big names. Do the little names lead the big names? Are the big names going to follow?" said Ablin. He said Apple could be important in terms of its leadership and its positioning in the indexes.

Besides earnings, there is home price data with S&P/Case-Shiller at 9 a.m. Markit Services PMI is at 9:45 a.m. and consumer confidence is at 10 a.m.

Traders will again be watching oil which fell below $30 per barrel in late trading after losing more than 5 percent in Monday's session. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped $1.85 to settle at $30.34 per barrel.

The S&P 500 fell 1.6 percent to 1,877, and the Dow slid 208 points to 15,885 on Monday. The 10-year yield was back at 2.00 percent in late trading.

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