* Bank of America profit fell, shares slip
* EBay gains after results beat expectations
* Boeing down after U.S. grounds Dreamliner
* Futures up: S&P 2.8 pts, Dow 8 pts, Nasdaq 5.75 pts
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Jan 17 U.S. stock index futures edged
up on Thursday, helped by better-than-expected results from
online marketplace eBay, ahead of a busy day of
corporate earnings and economic data.
Among several financial companies due to release results,
Bank of America reported its fourth-quarter profit fell
from a year ago as it took more charges to clean up
mortgage-related problems stemming from the financial crisis.
Its shares slipped 0.5 percent to $11.72 in heavy premarket
EBay's shares rose 3.2 percent to $54.60 in premarket
trading, a day after it reported holiday quarter results that
just beat Wall Street expectations. It gave a 2013 forecast that
was within analysts' estimates.
Solid earnings from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase
on Wednesday helped lift estimates for S&P 500 corporate
earnings slightly to a 2.2 percent gain, Thomson Reuters data
But expectations have come down significantly from where
they were in October. With investors anticipating a lackluster
earnings season, the focus will be on the corporate earnings
outlook for the months ahead, analysts said.
"That gives you a bigger picture of where the economy might
be headed. I think you have to stitch together all the
information and get a true picture of how robust the economies
of the world are," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research
analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
"We've all dismissed what's going to happen in this fourth
quarter. Estimates are pretty low, the companies that can't step
over the lower bar are probably going to get punished."
Shares of Boeing extended a recent slump after the
United States and other countries grounded the new 787
Dreamliner following a second incident involving battery
failure. Boeing was down 2.1 percent at $72.75.
S&P 500 futures rose 2.8 points and were above 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 gained 8
points, while Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.75 points.
Investors were looking to the release of a batch of economic
data for fresh trading incentives; these include weekly first
time claims for unemployment benefits, housing starts for
December and manufacturing activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic
region for January.
Shares of Cisco Systems slipped 1.8 percent to
$20.66 after JPMorgan cut its rating to "underweight" from
"neutral," according to flyonthewall.com.
AT&T is considering buying a telecoms company in
Europe to offset growth constraints in its home market, the Wall
Street Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the