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Earnings beats help soften hit from big tech misses

Some high profile earnings beats by General Electric, Pepsico, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley helped counterbalance the hangover of Wednesday's big tech earnings misses.

Stock futures came off their lows, with Nasdaq the best performer. Tech shares and momentum names were hit in afterhours selling Wednesday after IBM missed revenue expectations, and Google was shy of expectations on both the top and bottom line.

Read MoreGE reports narrow earnings beat

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The slew of earnings ahead of the bell Thursday includes DuPont, Blackstone, United Health, Sherwin Williams. Dupont and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Chipotle was up more than 5.5 percent after its earnings, which were slightly below expectations but sales jumped 13 percent.

Read MoreGoldman Sachs earnings and revenues top estimates

IBM was down about four percent in early trading after it reported earnings in line with the $2.54 per share expected, but revenues of $22.5 billion were below analysts' estimates of $22.9, according to Thomson Reuters. IBM earnings were 15 percent below the $3 per share seen a year ago and revenues were below the $23.4 billion last year.

Read MoreMorgan Stanley handily beats estimates

Google also got initially slammed, but its stock recovered about half its losses and was trading down about 2.5 percent pre-market. Google's $6.27 per share and $15.4 billion in revenues, fell short of the $6.40 a share and $15.5 billion expected.

Read More 'Dull' tech wins long game: Money manager

"Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water," said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Wunderlich Securities. "The problem with this is during the momentum new tech sell off, some of the old techs were catching a bid and that investor psychology of buying reasonable valuation was working its way into the old technology names. I'm not sure what happens now."

American Express stock fell about a half percent after hours Wednesday, when it too missed on the revenue side. It reported earnings three cents better-than-expected at $1.33 per share, up from $1.15 per share last year. Its revenues increased to $8.19 billion from $7.88 billion but were shy of the $8.35 billion expected.

Read More Need growth? Sell everything and buy this: Cramer

Bump in the road

Stocks surged Wednesday, spurred first by better-than-expected Chinese economic growth and then encouraged by a dovish tone from Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The Dow was up 162 at 16,424 and the S&P 500 was up 19 at 1862. The Nasdaq was up 52 points to 4086 in a strong rebound following a big turnaround on Tuesday.

Earnings are expected to grow by just 1.2 percent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Google and IBM earnings misses should weigh on tech stocks, but they are not likely to be representative of all of tech or the earnings season so far, said Hogan at Wunderlich Securities.

Read MoreArt Cashin: The selloff might be over

"On balance two household names blew up – IBM and J.P. Morgan – I think it's a hurdle we can get over but it's certainly a bump in the road," said Hogan. "I don't think it's a pivotal point or a reversal that's going to put us in a tailspin like something like Ukraine could." J.P. Morgan reported earnings that missed the mark last Friday.

Ukraine was also in the headlines Thursday. Secretary of State John Kerry meets in Geneva with foreign ministers from Ukraine and Russia. EU officials also are attending.

"That's the one thing that can usurp things," Hogan said of Ukraine.

Some of the week's economic data has been better-than-expected including Wednesday's industrial production, which grew at 0.7 percent and was revised higher to 1.2 percent in February. On Thursday, weekly jobless claims are expected at 8:30 a.m. ET and the Philadelphia Fed survey is expected at 10 a.m.

Thursday is the final trading day of the week, as markets are closed for Good Friday.

—By CNBC's Patti Domm. Follow her on Twitter @pattidomm.

  • Patti Domm

    Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

  • CNBC Senior Commodities Correspondent and Personal Finance Correspondent

  • JeeYeon Park is a writer for CNBC.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

  • Rick Santelli joined CNBC Business News as an on-air editor in 1999, reporting live from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.

  • Senior Producer at CNBC's Breaking News Desk.