US STOCKS-Futures climb as earnings roll in; claims data on tap

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 25, 2013 12:20 hrs

* 3M Co falls after earnings

* Verizon looking at bid for Verizon Wireless - sources

* Futures up: Dow 46 pts, S&P 6.4 pts, Nasdaq 13.25 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced on Thursday, as investors dealt with a raft of earnings, including those of 3M Co, along with data on the labor market.

Dow component ExxonMobil Corp, the largest U.S. company by market capitalization reports its results Thursday, a day after the company boosted its quarterly dividend.

Fellow Dow component 3M Co reported a slight rise in profit on modest growth in sales of its wide array of products, but shares fell 4.1 percent to $103.50 in premarket trading.

Qualcomm Inc lost 5.8 percent to $62.20 before the opening bell after the mobile chipmaker forecast earnings below expectations late Wednesday.

"The focus remains on the fact that companies continue to mostly beat expectations for earnings but also, many are disappointing on the forecast," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"So it is leaving investors with mixed feelings with no real reason to sell off stocks but not enough of a reason to really drive it materially higher - that pattern is likely to continue for a while."

Companies expected to post earnings after the close include Inc and Starbucks.

Data on the labor market is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) with the release of weekly initial jobless claims data. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 351,000 new filings compared with 352,000 in the prior week.

Verizon Communications Inc will be in focus after sources told Reuters it has hired advisers to prepare a possible $100 billion cash and stock bid to take full control of Verizon Wireless from joint venture partner, Vodafone Group Plc. Verizon shares edged up 0.4 percent to $52 in light premarket trade.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.4 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 46 points and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 13.25 points.

PulteGroup Inc, the No. 2 U.S. homebuilder, returned to a quarterly profit after reporting a loss a year earlier, as it benefited from low mortgage rates. Shares fell 2.5 percent to $19.20 in premarket trade.

Akamai Technologies Inc surged 19.4 percent to $43.08 in premarket trading after the internet content delivery company forecast second-quarter results above analysts' expectations late on Wednesday.

Earnings season has been largely positive, with 68.4 percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far beating expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning. Since 1994, 63 percent have surpassed estimates on average, while the beat rate is 67 percent for the past four quarters.

Analysts see earnings growth of 3.1 percent this quarter, up from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.

European shares edged up on Thursday, with the benchmark FTSEurofirst 300 index rising for a fifth straight session, helped by gains in car maker Volkswagen and telecoms group Vodafone

Asian shares rose, with recovering commodities and views that a run of weak global economic data will encourage major central banks to keep or deepen their monetary stimulus improving risk sentiment.

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