By Simon Kennedy, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) â" U.S. stock futures held in a tight range Friday as investors waited on the sidelines ahead of figures on fourth-quarter economic growth, while Ford Motor Co. and Amazon.com both fell sharply in premarket trading.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,954, +10.00, +0.08%) Â rose 6 points to 11,950 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,297, +1.50, +0.12%) Â were up 0.10 of a point at 1,295.90.
Futures for the Nasdaq 100 /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,328, +4.50, +0.19%) Â rose 1.25 points at 2,324.25.
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Most U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,990, +4.39, +0.04%) Â again closed short of the elusive 12,000 level. The index hasnât ended a session above 12,000 since June 19, 2008.
âWhen you consider the strength of the U.S. markets over the last two months, having risen a whopping 10% since the beginning of December, there comes a point when rising prices have to take a reality check,â said Simon Denham, head of spread betting firm Capital Spreads.
âOur clients are heavily short the indices, in particular the U.S. ones which have had the strongest run,â Denham added in an email.
U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product will be announced at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, with economists polled by MarketWatch expecting growth to accelerate to an annual rate of 3.5% from 2.6% in the third quarter.
The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 77.82, +0.10, +0.12%) Â was virtually flat at 77.679 ahead of the data.
Among stocks to watch, shares in Ford /quotes/comstock/13*!f/quotes/nls/f (F 18.79, +0.42, +2.29%) Â slumped 7.2% in premarket trading after the car maker reported adjusted earnings that missed Wall Street forecasts.
Amazon.com /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 184.45, +9.06, +5.17%) Â dropped 8.7% in premarket trading after the online booksellerâs operating margins fell short of market expectations. Read more on Amazonâs results.
Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 28.87, +0.09, +0.31%) Â will also be in focus after the software giant posted a slight drop in quarterly profit, but said revenue rose 5% thanks to strong demand for its Kinetic videogame device and Office software. Read more on Microsoftâs latest figures.
Honeywell International Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!hon/quotes/nls/hon (HON 55.92, +0.15, +0.27%) Â said Friday its fourth-quarter net income more than doubled to $369 million, or 47 cents a share, from $163 million, or 20 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Among companies still due to report earnings Friday, Dow component Chevron Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!cvx/quotes/nls/cvx (CVX 94.75, +0.11, +0.12%) Â is expected to post a profit of $2.35 a share for the fourth quarter.
In international markets, the U.K.âs FTSE 100 index /quotes/comstock/23i!i:ukx (UK:UKX 5,918, -47.58, -0.80%) Â fell 1% in midday trading as losses for mining stocks weighed on the index.
Asian markets closed mostly lower, with Japanâs Nikkei 225 average dropping 1.1% as the market had its first chance to react to Standard & Poorâs decision to downgrade Japanese sovereign debt.
Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London.Powered By iWebRSS.com