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Mushy Apple and other earnings could steer stocks Wednesday

Apple's mushy post-earnings performance, a flood of other earnings news and weaker oil prices could be catalysts for stocks Wednesday.

Boeing, Coca-Cola and dozens of others report earnings ahead of the opening bell.

Apple, which reported after the bell Tuesday, was a negative factor for stock futures in late trading. The stock was down around 3 percent after it reported a decline in profits and revenues.

Apple, the biggest U.S. company, can easily impact sentiment. "I think it's psychologically very important," said Don Townswick, director of equities at Conning. "Apple earnings are almost more important for the overall market than they are for Apple."

Apple net income slid nearly 20 percent to $9 billion, but earnings per share beat forecasts by a penny at $1.67. The market focused on revenues of $46.9 billion, just below consensus of $46.94 billion. Sales of the company's iPhone were 45.5 million, more than the 44.8 million expected but shipments of Mac computers were below consensus.

There is also oil inventory data Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. EDT, and if American Petroleum Institute's late Tuesday report is a guide, there could be a bigger-than-expected build in inventories, a bearish trend. The API data showed a 4.8 million barrel increase in crude supply in the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude sank closer to $49, after earlier closing down 1.1 percent at $49.96 per barrel, below $50 for the first time since Oct. 17.

"I was expecting 2.4 million. It looks like imports rebounded by a good amount," said John Kilduff of Again Capital.

Oil was lower earlier Tuesday on increasing doubt that OPEC and other oil producers will be able to make a deal to curb production and stabilize oil prices.

"At some point you had to expect the market to call them out on what they're doing or not doing. Their deeds again just don't match their words, almost to a member. At some point, the rhetoric game gets played out," said Kilduff. He noted there were reports that an unnamed Russian official said that country would not cut production.

There is also a $34 billion five-year note auction Wednesday, and it's being watched carefully after a soft two-year auction Tuesday. Strategists said some of the weakness — and rise in rates — had to do with anticipation about the Fed's November meeting next week.

"How much do they emphasize a December rate hike? I think it's pretty much priced in and barring a disaster, they're looking for that one rate hike in 2016," said Cantor Fitzgerald rate strategist Justin Lederer. The market expects the Fed to stay on hold at the November meeting but to hike for the second time in 10 years in December, if the economy remains on track.

"I don't think you're really going to see rates spike higher on this. It's not like it was a year ago when you had December hike, and the Fed was looking for four this year," he said. "Here we are and the trajectory is very shallow. Before an election, I don't think they want to see anything crazy going on, before the election."

Next week's Fed meeting is six days before the presidential election, and that's one reason economists expect the Fed to wait until December.

"I think the Fed being where they are now has hurt economic activity. They've sapped confidence," said Townswick. "I hope they start to raise and after the election, they don't have to be accused of politicking or either being accused of causing a recession or causing a candidate to lose."

Meanwhile, earnings have been a mixed catalyst with Procter & Gamble, for instance, jumping on its report Tuesday, but fellow Dow stock 3M fell sharply on its earnings.

Besides Boeing and P&G, earnings expected Wednesday morning include CNBC parent Comcast, Norfolk Southern, Northrop Grumman, GlaxoSmithKline, Ingersoll-Rand, Nasdaq, State Street, Southwest Air, Nintendo, WR Grace, Bayer and Boston Scientific.

Texas Instruments, Tesla, F5 Networks, VMWare, Shutterfly, Rent-A-Center, Ocwen, Raymond James, Buffalo Wild Wings, Groupon, Samsung and dozens of others report after the closing bell.

Earnings are expected to grow by 1.7 percent for the third quarter, based on results of S&P 500 companies so far and estimates, according to Thomson Reuters. Revenue growth is expected at 2.7 percent.

Of the 150 S&P companies reporting as of Tuesday morning, 75 percent beat earnings estimates and 59 percent have beaten revenue estimates.

There is also international trade at 8:30 a.m. EDT, Services PMI at 9:45 a.m. and new home sales at 10 a.m.