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US STOCKS-Futures edge higher, Wall St nears multi-year highs

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Wed, Feb 13, 2013 12:34 hrs

* Obama calls for $50 bln spending plan on infrastructure

* Retail sales data on tap, seen slowing from last month

* Comcast to buy remaining stake of NBC Universal from GE

* Futures up: Dow 19 pts, S&P 2.2 pts, Nasdaq 6.75 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Wednesday, suggesting the market would continue a recent upward trend that took benchmark indexes near multi-year highs.

* Equities have been strong performers of late, with the S&P 500 rising for the past six weeks, putting it up 6.5 percent so far this year. The Dow is about 1 percent from an all-time intraday high, reached in October 2007.

* While the long-term trend in markets is expected to remain positive, some investors may be looking to take profits at current levels, with the S&P near its highest since November 2007. Recently, daily moves have been small and trading volume light as investors search for new reasons to drive stocks higher.

* Industrial and construction shares will be in focus a day after President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, where he called for a $50 billion spending plan to create jobs by rebuilding degraded roads and bridges. He also backed higher taxes for the wealthy.

* Retail sales data is scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) and are seen rising 0.1 percent in the month as consumers eyed smaller paychecks on the back of a recent tax increase. Sales rose 0.5 percent in December.

* Much of the stock market's recent gains have come on the back of stronger corporate results. Economic data, including recent reads on gross domestic product, have indicated some weakness.

* S&P 500 futures rose 2.2 points and were above 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 added 19 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6.75 points.

* In company news, Comcast Corp late Tuesday agreed to buy General Electric Co's remaining 49 percent stake in NBC Universal for $16.7 billion. Comcast jumped 8 percent to $42.10 in premarket trading while Dow component GE was up 3.2 percent to $23.31.

* Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer on Tuesday said the company's search partnership with Microsoft Corp was not delivering the market share gains or the revenue boost that it should.

* Companies scheduled to report quarterly results on Wednesday include Deere & Co, MetLife Inc, Applied Materials and Whole Foods Market.

* According to the latest Thomson Reuters data, of the 353 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results, 70.3 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.

* Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 5.3 percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season.

* Also in economic news, business inventories are seen rising 0.3 percent in December, a repeat of the November increase. The data is due at 10 a.m.

* U.S. stocks closed modestly higher on Tuesday as investors looked ahead to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.




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