* Alcoa shares rise after positive outlook for the year
* Clearwire rises after DISH offer, Sprint falls
* Futures up: S&P 1.7 pts, Dow 15 pts, Nasdaq 1.5 pts
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Wall Street was poised to open
slightly higher on Wednesday after Alcoa got the earnings season
under way with better-than-expected revenue and an encouraging
outlook for the year.
Alcoa Inc said it expects global demand for aluminum
will continue to grow in 2013, though the company 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 1.7 percent to $9.25 in premarket trade.
Still, investors are 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 where they were in October. Earnings were
expected to grow by 2.7 percent, according to Thomson Reuters
Equities have pulled back over the last two sessions from
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."
Among other earnings, Constellation Brands, whose
labels include Robert Mondavi and Ravenswood wines, rose 4
percent to $37.50 after it reported higher profit.
But on the downside, Apollo Group Inc slid more
than 10 percent after it reported lower student sign-ups for the
third straight quarter and cut its operating profit forecast for
2013. Apollo's shares were indicated at $18.84.
S&P 500 futures rose 1.7 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 1.5 points.
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 7.2 percent at $3.13, while Sprint lost 2.5
percent to $5.82.
Hard drive maker Seagate Technology rose 2.7 percent
to $32.25 after it raised its second-quarter revenue forecast.
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.