* Alcoa shares rise after positive outlook for the year
* Clearwire rises after DISH offer, Sprint falls
* Futures up: S&P 1.2 pts, Dow 15 pts, Nasdaq 0.5 pts
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Jan 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose
modestly on Wednesday as Alcoa got the earnings season under way
with better-than-expected revenue.
Alcoa Inc also gave a positive outlook for 2013, but
kept a cautious tone as worries lingered over a looming U.S.
budget confrontation. Shares of Alcoa, the largest aluminum
producer in the United States, rose 2.5 percent to $9.33 in
Even with the encouraging Alcoa report, investors were wary
about the outcome of the fourth-quarter earnings season. Profits
were expected to beat the previous quarter's lackluster results,
but analyst estimates were down sharply from October. Quarterly
earnings were expected to grow by 2.7 percent, according to
Thomson Reuters data.
Equities have pulled back over the last two sessions after
last week's rally, which was spurred by the "fiscal cliff" deal
"With the euphoria of the fiscal cliff deal wearing off, the
market is looking for the next positive theme and the hope is
that earning season can fill that need," said Andre Bakhos,
director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.
"With expectations muted, any semblance of decent numbers
could provide a robust upside potential."
S&P 500 futures rose 1.2 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 15
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.50 point.
Dish Network Corp late Tuesday announced a bid for
Clearwire Corp that trumped Sprint Nextel Corp's
$2.2 billion offer, setting the stage for a battle over the
wireless service provider.
Clearwire was up 8.9 percent at $3.18 in premarket trading,
while Sprint lost 3.5 percent to $5.76.
Apple Inc is working on a lower-end iPhone, the
Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources. The report comes
as Apple's chief executive meets with partners and government
officials in China.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley are
among a group of banks expected to agree as soon as this week to
a $1.5 billion settlement with U.S. regulators over botched
foreclosure claims, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Hard drive maker Seagate Technology rose 3.4 percent
to $32.45 after it raised its second-quarter revenue forecast.
The biggest U.S. for-profit college company, Apollo Group
Inc, reported lower student sign-ups for the third
straight quarter and cut its operating profit forecast for 2013.
Apollo's shares dropped 7.2 percent to $19.44.