US STOCKS-Futures dip after Tuesday rally, earnings in focus

Wed Feb 6, 2013 1:31pm GMT

Quotes

   

* Disney climbs after results

* Visa earnings on tap

* Futures dip: Dow 30 pts, S&P 4.4 pts, Nasdaq 11.5 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Feb 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures dipped on Wednesday, indicating the S&P 500 may pull back from a rally of more than 1 percent a day earlier as the index struggles to push past 5-year highs.

Walt Disney Co beat estimates for quarterly adjusted earnings and said it expected the next few quarters to be better, with a stronger lineup of movies and rising attendance at its theme parks. Shares advanced 3.2 percent to $56.03 in light premarket trading.

With the benchmark S&P 500 index at its highest since December 2007, investors are finding it a challenge to continue a move upward amid a dearth of fresh trading incentives, analysts said.

"We are a little bit at stall speed," said Keith Bliss, senior vice-president at Cuttone & Co in New York.

"We will continue to see earnings but it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see us consolidate around this level on the S&P 500 for the next day or two, in the absence of some real compelling news, which is always a risk."

According to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning, of 278 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 68.7 percent have beat analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.

In another positive sign for corporate profits, 66 percent of companies have topped revenue forecasts. Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are now expected to rise 4.5 percent, according to the data, above the 1.9 percent forecast at the start of earnings season.

S&P 500 futures fell 4.4 points 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 lost 30 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 11.5 points.

The benchmark S&P index rose 1.04 percent Tuesday, its biggest percentage gain since a 2.5-percent advance on Jan. 2, when legislators sidestepped a "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax hikes that could have hurt a fragile U.S. economic recovery.

Visa, the world's largest credit and debit card network, is expected to report earnings per share of $1.79 for its first quarter, up from $1.49 a year earlier. Smaller rival MasterCard recently reported better-than-expected results but said its revenue growth could slow in the first half of the year due to economic uncertainty.

Zynga Inc jumped 4.7 percent to $2.87 in premarket trading after the online gaming company reported an unexpected fourth-quarter profit, following steep cost cuts and shifting forward deferred revenue.

Time Warner Inc gained 3.1 percent to $51.50 before the bell after reporting higher fourth-quarter profit that beat Wall Street estimates, as growth in its cable networks offset declines in its film, TV entertainment and publishing units.

European stocks were mixed at midday as the previous session's tentative recovery lost steam, with euro zone banks sliding on renewed concerns over the health of the region's economy.

Asian shares rose, with Japanese equities climbing to their highest since October 2008 on hopes of central bank monetary policy easing and optimism about the prospects for a global economic recovery.