* Caterpillar higher after fourth-quarter results
* S&P 500 coming off eight straight days of gains
* Bargain hunters may look at Apple following recent drop
* Durable goods, pending home sales data on tap
* Futures up: Dow 15 pts, S&P 2 pts, Nasdaq 1.75 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Monday, with investors reluctant to make big
bets following a rally that took the S&P 500 above 1,500 for the
first time in more than five years.
A strong start to the earnings season has boosted equities,
with major averages rising for four straight weeks. The S&P has
gained for eight straight days, its longest winning streak in
Over the past four weeks, the S&P has jumped 7.2 percent,
suggesting markets may be vulnerable to a pullback if news
Caterpillar Inc rose 1.2 percent to $96.71 in
premarket trading after the Dow component reported adjusted
fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations, though revenue
was slightly below forecasts. The heavy machinery maker also
said it remained cautious on the economy despite recent
"This is not a disappointment, more of a neutral, even
though the revenue is a little light," said Chris Bertelsen,
chief investment officer of Global Financial Private Capital in
Sarasota, Florida. "Futures seem to have discounted it."
Thomson Reuters data through Friday showed that of the 147
S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 68 percent
exceeded expectations. Since 1994, 62 percent of companies have
topped expectations, while the average over the past four
quarters stands at 65 percent.
Yahoo Inc reports after the closing bell, and could
face heightened expectations following strong results at Google
Inc last week.
S&P 500 futures rose 2 points but were slightly below
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
15 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.75 points.
The S&P 500 closed at its highest since Dec. 10, 2007, and
the Dow ended at its highest since Oct. 31, 2007.
"Markets may need some back and fill given the rip we've
been on, but right now optimism is the rule," said Bertelsen.
In addition to earnings, equities have also risen on an
agreement in Washington to extend the government's borrowing
power. On Monday, Fitch Ratings said that agreement removed the
near-term risk to the country's 'AAA' rating.
Previously, the agency said the lack of an agreement would
prompt a review of the sovereign rating.
Investors are waiting for reports on durable goods orders
and pending home sales, both for December. Durable goods are due
at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) and are seen rising 1.8 percent. Pending
home sales are seen rising 0.3 percent.
Last week, sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell in
December but rose in 2012 to the highest level since 2009, a
sign the U.S. housing market turned a corner last year.
Bargain hunters may look to Apple Inc in the first
session after the tech giant lost its coveted title as the
largest U.S. company by market capitalization to Exxon Mobil
Corp. On Friday, Apple's market cap fell to $413
billion, down roughly $250 billion from its September peak.
Apple's fall is about equal to the entire value of Google Inc
"Apple is pretty attractive right now, so you may see an
opportunity here," said Bertelsen, who helps oversee $1.5
billion in assets. "Those who think the stock is dead have made
a big mistake."
U.S. stocks rose on Friday, lifted by strong results from
such companies as Procter & Gamble. The rise put the S&P
500 about 4.1 percent away from its all-time closing high of
1,565.15 on Oct. 9, 2007.