US STOCKS-Futures flat at 5-year highs, investors await earnings

Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:02pm GMT

Quotes

   

* DuPont posts drop in profit, Verizon impacted by Sandy

* J&J, Google and TI all on tap to report on Tuesday

* Obama begins second term, outlines aggressive agenda

* U.S. shares of RIM surge in premarket after CEO comments

* Dow down 8 pts, S&P down 0.9 pt, Nasdaq up 5 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Jan 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Tuesday as investors held back on making large bets ahead of an onslaught of corporate earnings after recently notching five-year highs.

* Both the Dow and S&P 500 closed at their highest levels since December 2007 on Friday, spurred by a strong start to earnings season. U.S. markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday.

* Despite stronger-than-expected financial results from major companies, including big banks, at the start of the quarterly reporting season, many investors are worried that the other earnings reports will reflect economic uncertainty in the fourth quarter.

* DuPont, which reported early on Tuesday, posted a steep drop in earnings on reduced demand for titanium dioxide paint pigment. Verizon Communications Inc, which along with DuPont is a Dow component, reported earnings that were pressured by the impact of Superstorm Sandy, sending shares down 1.1 percent to $42.06 in premarket trading.

* This is a busy week for earnings, with Google Inc , Johnson & Johnson, Travelers Cos and Texas Instruments all on tap to report Tuesday. Tech earnings will be in particular focus after Intel Corp last week gave a revenue outlook that was below expectations.

* Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are forecast to have risen 2.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. That estimate is above the 1.9 percent forecast from a week ago but well below the 9.9 percent fourth-quarter earnings forecast from Oct. 1, the data showed.

* On Tuesday, S&P 500 futures fell 0.9 point and were below 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 fell 8 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 5 points.

* Monday was a market holiday for Martin Luther King Day in the United States, and also marked the inauguration of President Barack Obama's second term, who called for aggressive action on climate change, economic equality and climate change.

* Markets have recently been pressured by uncertainty stemming from Washington about the federal debt limit and spending cuts that could hamper U.S. growth.

* Republican leaders in the House of Representatives said they aim to pass on Wednesday a nearly four-month extension of the U.S. debt limit allowing the government to borrow enough to meet its obligations during that period.

* U.S. shares of Research in Motion jumped 8.9 percent to $17.25 in premarket trading after its chief executive said the company may consider strategic alliances with other companies after the launch of devices powered by RIM's new BlackBerry 10 operating system.

* The Dow and S&P 500 closed at five-year highs on Friday as the market registered a third straight week of gains on a solid start to the quarterly earnings season, including from Morgan Stanley and General Electric Co.

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