* China inflation data encourages, U.S. earnings season in
* J.C. Penney tumbles after CEO shake-up
* Alcoa falls after revenue misses expectations
* Futures up: S&P 500 3.1 pts, Dow 12 pts, Nasdaq 9 pts
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, April 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged
higher on Tuesday as encouraging economic data from of China was
tempered by investors' bracing for earnings that are expected to
show only modest growth.
J.C. Penney shares slid 9 percent to $14.45 in
premarket trading after the department store chain replaced
Chief Executive Ron Johnson with his predecessor.
Forecasts for U.S. first-quarter earnings have been scaled
back in 2013, with profits seen rising just 1.6 percent from the
year-ago quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data. In January,
earnings were seen rising 4.3 percent.
A significant driver of the rally has been the extraordinary
stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve, and investors will
be looking at company forecasts to gauge whether the
fundamentals are strong enough to keep stocks climbing higher,
said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management
in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"The rally will be confirmed if earnings can stay strong and
if companies can continue to thrive even as government spending
is reduced, and I think it will falter if it proves (companies)
are unable to do so," said Meckler.
That uncertainty could leave investors wary of taking much
risk in a market that has accelerated to record levels in recent
months. For the year, the S&P 500 is up more than 9 percent,
while the Dow has gained more than 11 percent.
Alcoa Inc, the first Dow component to release
results, reported a higher quarterly profit but
lower-than-expected revenue after the bell on Monday. Shares of
the largest U.S. aluminum producer were down 1.7 percent at
$8.25 in premarket trading.
Data out of China overnight showed annual consumer inflation
cooled last month. The figures led to expectations there would
be less pressure to tighten policy, giving policymakers room to
support the nascent recovery in the world's second-largest
S&P 500 futures edged up 3.1 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 rose 12
points, while Nasdaq 100 futures added 9 points.
In economic reports, investors awaited U.S. wholesale
inventories, due at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). Economists in a Reuters
survey forecast inventories to rise 0.5 percent in February
versus an increase of 1.2 percent in January.