"Companies continue to have an unrelenting focus on being efficient," said Matt Kaufler, portfolio manager of the Federated Clover Fund. "It will continue to be a tough revenue environment for the next quarter and earnings expectation for the year will be pulled in a bit."
"At the same time, I don't think things will be disastrous," he continued. "We had a great first quarter in the market, so with things being reined in a bit, the market might do a bit of a sideways dance."
Qualcomm, Aflac and Zynga are among companies slated to post earnings after the closing bell.
Adding to woes, durable goods orders tumbled 5.7 percent in March, logging their steepest drop in seven months, according to the Commerce Department. Excluding transportation, orders declined 1.4 percent after falling 1.7 percent the prior month.
European shares ended higher after posting the best one-day gains of the year on Tuesday. Bank stocks were in focus, with Barclays, Credit Suisse and Nordea Bank posting first quarter results. Credit Suisse and Nordea beat analysts' expectations, while Barclays narrowly missed.
In addition, Ericsson, the world's number one mobile phone equipment maker, reported a bigger-than-expected fall in first quarter profit. However, Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis posted upbeat sales numbers and surprised investors by announcing a new CFO, Harry Kirsch.
Also on the economic front, weekly mortgage applications edged higher last week as rates declined for the fifth-consecutive week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The Treasury sold $35 billion in 5-year notes at a high yield of 0.710 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 2.86.