- Pre-Market Indications

Friday, January 15, 2010

Indications: U.S. futures dip after data, J.P. Morgan results

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By Steve Goldstein & Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures slipped Friday ahead of a bevy of economic data, with stronger-than-forecast profit from J.P. Morgan Chase and Intel not enough to push markets past 15-month highs.

S&P 500 futures fell 4.2 points to 1,141.00 and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 4 points to 1,884.25. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 23 points to 10,640.

Stock futures were off session lows after data showed U.S. consumer prices inched up 0.1% in December and the New York Fed's manufacturing index registered a sharp improvement in January.

Industrial-production figures come at 9:15 a.m. and the Michigan sentiment data are due at 10 a.m.


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Microchip giant Intel /quotes/comstock/15*!intc/quotes/nls/intc (INTC 21.48, +0.52, +2.48%) late Thursday said its fourth-quarter profit jumped to $2.3 billion from $234 million in the fourth quarter, helped by demand for notebooks.

"We believe the most significant point for investors from Intel's results and guidance is the added leverage produced through management's revitalized business model. While the 61% annual gross margin would reach previous peaks, in our view, there may be upside given a better than expected corporate market," said Thomas Weisel analyst Kevin Cassidy.

Up earlier on, Intel shares were off 0.5% in pre-market trade.

Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan Chase /quotes/comstock/13*!jpm/quotes/nls/jpm (JPM 44.69, +0.44, +0.99%) reported a stronger-than-forecast $3.3 billion quarterly profit, though the bank didn't lift its dividend as some had hoped.

Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said though the results showed improvement, "they fell short of both an adequate return on capital and the firm's earnings potential." Shares in J.P. Morgan slipped nearly 2% in the immediate aftermath.

"The top line looked a bit worse than expected, but overall the results look quite good. There's still a lot of risk with financials; their balance sheets are still complicated," said Stephen Taylor, strategist at Dolmen Stockbrokers in Dublin.

Elsewhere, Verizon Communications /quotes/comstock/13*!vz/quotes/nls/vz (VZ 31.22, -0.65, -2.04%) said its mostly held wireless unit is debuting a flat pricing plan. Vodafone Group /quotes/comstock/15*!vod/quotes/nls/vod (VOD 22.50, -0.13, -0.57%) owns a minority stake in Verizon Wireless.

Interactive Data /quotes/comstock/13*!idc/quotes/nls/idc (IDC 25.47, +0.08, +0.32%) said it's examining strategic alternatives. IDC is mostly held by publishing group Pearson /quotes/comstock/13i!pso/quotes/nls/pso (PSO 14.60, +0.08, +0.55%) .

CF Industries /quotes/comstock/13*!cf/quotes/nls/cf (CF 93.19, -1.73, -1.82%) gave up its pursuit of Terra Industries /quotes/comstock/13*!tra/quotes/nls/tra (TRA 32.66, +0.05, +0.15%) . Agrium /quotes/comstock/13*!agu/quotes/nls/agu (AGU 65.32, -2.15, -3.19%) said it will nominate two independent directors to CF's board and asked it to drop a poison pill.

Oil futures fell below $79 a barrel, and gold futures declined nearly $10 an ounce. The euro was weak, hit in part by a rumor, quickly denied, that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would quit. Concerns over the Greek government's deficit also weighed.

Asian equities mostly were stronger, with the Nikkei 225 climbing 0.7%.

U.S. stocks rose Thursday ahead of Intel's earnings announcement, with the banking sector largely holding its ground in the wake of President Obama's proposal for a 10-year, $90 billion tax on the sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 30 points, the S&P 500 gained 3 points and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 9 points.

The S&P 500 was up eight of the past nine sessions and closed at its highest level since Oct. 1, 2008.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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