* Alcoa up after earnings
* Fed minutes on tap
* Intuitive Surgical forecasts revenue below expectations
* Futures up: Dow 22 pts, S&P 0.5 pt, Nasdaq 5.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Wednesday, after the S&P 500 managed to halt a three-day losing skid, in the wake of earnings from Alcoa and ahead of the minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting.
* Alcoa Inc gained 2.6 percent to $12.86 in premarket trade after the former Dow component reported a decline in first quarter adjusted profit on Tuesday as aluminum prices dropped, but earnings came in ahead of analysts’ expectations.
* S&P 500 companies’ first-quarter earnings are projected to have increased just 1 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data showed. The forecast is down sharply from the start of the year, when profit growth was estimated at 6.5 percent.
* The Federal Reserve is expected to release the minutes from its March 18-19 meeting. The Fed needs to be more specific about what economic conditions would prompt it to raise interest rates from current rock-bottom levels, a pair of top Fed officials normally at odds on policy said on Tuesday.
* Earnings season gets under way this week, with results due from companies including retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond after the close, while financials JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co close out the week with results on Friday.
* U.S. stocks advanced in the prior session to snap a three-day losing streak as investors bought beaten-down social media and Internet shares.
* The benchmark S&P 500 index managed to hold above its 50-day moving average around 1,840, a key support level. The index has been able to successfully defend 1,840 several times over the past month.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 0.5 point and were about even with 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 gained 22 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.5 points.
* General Motors Co shares lost 2.4 percent to $33.69 before the opening bell. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the automaker is being fined $7,000 a day for missing an April 3 deadline to provide information about its recall of 2.6 million cars for defective ignition switches. Morgan Stanley cut the stock to “underweight.”
* Intuitive Surgical Inc estimated first-quarter revenue well below analysts’ average expectation, mainly due to a 60 percent drop in sales of its flagship da Vinci robot system. Its shares slumped 11.4 percent to $434 in light premarket trade.
* European shares rebounded, led by automakers, although caution ahead of the European earnings season could keep gains in check.
* Asian shares rose after Wall Street reversed a three-day losing streak, but Japanese stocks dropped sharply after the yen surged on fading hopes of near-term stimulus from the Bank of Japan. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)