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US STOCKS-Futures higher as key companies report strong results

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Tue, Oct 16, 2012 12:30 hrs

* Johnson & Johnson, UnitedHealth Group raise profit views

* European shares higher ahead of meeting of leaders

* Futures up: Dow 58 pts, S&P 6.5 pts, Nasdaq 12.75 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Oct 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday as some strong earnings from key companies assuaged fears about the global economy.

Johnson & Johnson and UnitedHealth Group, two Dow components, raised their views of full-year profits, while Goldman Sachs boosted its dividend.

Goldman shares fluctuated in premarket trading after posting earnings that beat expectations. The stock initially rose but then pared gains to trade little changed at $124.90.

The decline follows a trend set by JPMorgan and Wells Fargo last week. Both fell despite reporting results that beat expectations. Citigroup Inc rallied after its results on Monday, helping to calm concerns about financial shares.

Coca-Cola Co also reported a rise in earnings and revenue, though profits were pressured by foreign exchange rates. The stock was flat in premarket trading.

Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York, said Coke and Goldman were "incredibly important," given Coke's worldwide presence and Goldman's strength in the investment banking sector.

"On balance, expectations are now so low that I have very little doubt we'll be able to meet and beat those expectations," Hogan said.

UnitedHealth Group Inc reported earnings that were higher than a forecast the company gave earlier this month and raised its full-year profit outlook. The stock rose 2.3 percent to $58.80 in premarket trading.

The quarterly earnings season thus far has been mixed, with some early pessimistic results giving the S&P 500 its worst week since June last week. However, Citigroup's results helped spark a rally on Monday.

Profits of S&P 500 companies are seen dropping 2.3 percent this quarter from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data. With about 8 percent of S&P companies having reported, 58 percent have topped profit expectations - less than the average beat rate of 67 percent for the past four quarters.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.5 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 58 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 12.75 points.

The S&P 500 index is up about 5.8 percent so far this quarter, and both the Dow and S&P have recently found support at their 50-day moving averages. Last week's declines left the indexes close to breaking below those levels.

Intel and IBM report after the market closes and are among the first major earnings reports of the tech sector, which has been marked by a number of profit warnings, including from Intel. Late Monday, Microchip Technology Inc said second-quarter revenue was likely to be below its earlier estimates due to soft demand.

While earnings have been the primary driver for equities in recent sessions, overshadowing some strong economic indicators, investors will keep an eye on the meeting of European leaders later this week. European shares rose 0.5 percent on growing hopes the meeting would advance plans to tackle debt problems in Spain and Greece.

U.S. stocks climbed on Monday, rebounding from last week's losses, after Citigroup's earnings and U.S. retail sales exceeded expectations.




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