MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Friday, January 21, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures rise on strong GE results

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By Simon Kennedy and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures edged up Friday after solid results from General Electric Co. and Google Inc., though Bank of America Corp. reported earnings that missed expectations.

“Futures are showing signs of a bounce on solid Google earnings and continued pressure on the U.S. dollar. And, after B. of A.’s confusing numbers, the rest of the earnings calendar is fairly light heading into the weekend,” Marc Pado, U.S. strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald, wrote in a note.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,822, +48.00, +0.41%)  rose 39 points to 11,813, and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,280, +3.70, +0.29%)  climbed 5.9 points to 1,282.1.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,279, -2.50, -0.11%) advanced 13.25 points to 2,294.75.

On Thursday, U.S. markets closed slightly lower for a second straight day, providing “confirmation that we have started a pullback phase,” according to Pado.

“That does not mean we won’t bounce and distribute a top, even if it is a short-term top. The good news is that the market is overlooking positive economic news. This should help the correction be shorter and shallower than many anticipate,” the analyst wrote.

The Dow industrials /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,868, +45.07, +0.38%)   ended Thursday down 2.49 points.

H-P board shake-up draws praise

Dan Gallagher and Ben Pimentel discuss what Hewlett-Packard’s board shake-up means for the tech giant, and how it relates to Mark Hurd.

Corporate earnings will be the focus of attention. Late Thursday, Google /quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog (GOOG 625.29, -1.48, -0.24%)  reported earnings that beat Wall Street expectations and said co-founder Larry Page will become chief executive officer in early April. Read more on Google’s results and the board shakeup.

General Electric’s /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 19.46, +1.03, +5.59%)  shares rose in premarket action after the industrial giant reported a jump in fourth-quarter profit, comfortably ahead of consensus estimates. Read about GE’s results.

Shares of Bank of America /quotes/comstock/13*!bac/quotes/nls/bac (BAC 14.27, -0.27, -1.86%) , however, dropped before the open after the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $1.2 billion, including a $2 billion goodwill-impairment charge. Read about B. of A.’s results.

Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin, said the trend so far has been one of strong earnings from industrial, materials and technology companies, with only the financial sector largely disappointing investors.

“GE was quite good, and it’s a bellwether on the economy,” Lenhoff said.

“It seems the results of the financial sector have little to do with what’s going on in the underlying economy,” he added.

Also late Thursday, Hewlett-Packard Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!hpq/quotes/nls/hpq (HPQ 46.89, +0.11, +0.24%)  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 29.98, -0.80, -2.59%) . Read more about H-P.

With little on the economic calendar, the dollar continued its recent slide against the euro and was slightly lower against the yen.

The euro rose to $1.3528, and the dollar slipped against the yen to ¥82.70.

Gold prices edged 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 jumping 1.4% in midday 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. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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