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Friday, January 21, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures edge higher ahead of GE

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By Simon Kennedy, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures edged marginally higher Friday ahead of earnings announcements from General Electric Co. and Bank of America Corp., and as investors assessed the latest results from Google Inc.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,790, +16.00, +0.14%)  rose 7 points to 11,782 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,279, +2.50, +0.20%)  edged up 1.20 points to 1,277.40.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,286, +4.50, +0.20%)  were up 1.75 points at 2,283.25.

The moves came after U.S. markets closed slightly lower on Thursday amid worries of further tightening measures from China.

The Dow ended Thursday down 2.49 points.

H-P board shake-up draws praise

Dan Gallagher and Ben Pimentel discuss what Hewlett-Packard’s announcement that four members of its board are leaving means for the tech giant, and how it relates to Mark Hurd.

Corporate earnings will be the main focus of attention after Google /quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog (GOOG 626.77, -4.98, -0.79%)  late Thursday reported earnings that beat Wall Street expectations and said co-founder Larry Page will become the group’s chief executive officer as of early April. Read more on Google’s results and the board shake-up.

Shares in Google were up 1.6% in premarket trading.

Also late Thursday, Hewlett-Packard Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!hpq/quotes/nls/hpq (HPQ 46.78, +0.46, +0.99%)  announced several changes to its board, including the appointment of Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!ebay/quotes/nls/ebay (EBAY 30.78, +1.68, +5.76%) .

Among the companies due to report earnings Friday, General Electric /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 18.43, +0.10, +0.55%) is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings of 32 cents a share.

Bank of America Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!bac/quotes/nls/bac (BAC 14.54, +0.17, +1.18%)  is seen posting a profit of 18 cents a share and Schlumberger Ltd /quotes/comstock/13*!slb/quotes/nls/slb (SLB 85.28, -0.98, -1.14%)  is forecast to report earnings of 78 cents a share.

With little on the economic calendar, the dollar continued its recent slide against the euro, but held fairly steady against the yen.

The euro rose 0.5% to $1.35337 and the dollar slipped 0.1% against the yen to ¥82.871.

Gold prices edge lower in electronic trading, while crude oil pushed marginally higher.

European markets partially recovered from the previous session’s losses, with the French CAC 40 climbing 0.9% in morning trading.

Asian markets ended mostly lower, including a 1.6% drop for Japan’s Nikkei 225 Average, though China’s Shanghai Composite bucked the trend to end 1.4% higher.

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London.

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