* DuPont revenues beat expectations, Verizon hit by Sandy
* Google and Texas Instruments to report late on Tuesday
* U.S. shares of RIM surge in premarket after CEO comments
* Obama begins second term, outlines aggressive agenda
* Futures: Dow down 18 pts, S&P down 1.4 pt, Nasdaq up 1.25
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Jan 22 U.S. stock index futures
pointed to a flat open on Tuesday as investors held back from
making large bets ahead of a busy week for corporate earnings
and after recently notching five-year highs.
Both the Dow and S&P 500 closed at their highest levels so
far in this earnings season, with the gains largely coming on
better-than-expected results. But despite bullish statements
from major companies, including big banks, many investors are
worried other reports will reflect economic uncertainty in the
"The market has been pleased with earnings thus far, and it
is encouraging to see a cyclical company like DuPont show
revenue strength, but I'm waiting on more tech and energy
earnings until I come down one way or the other on this season,"
said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.
DuPont reported revenue that was ahead of Wall Street
expectations, sending shares up 1.4 percent to $47.65 before the
opening bell. However, slumping demand for pigment and solar
panel parts hurt fourth-quarter profit.
Travelers Cos Inc gained 2.9 percent to $78.50 after
forecasting higher premiums across its businesses, though it
also posted earnings that fell by half from losses related to
On the downside, Johnson & Johnson, the diversified
health company, fell 0.9 percent to $72.55 after forecasting
2013 earnings below expectations, while Verizon Communications
Inc lost 1.5 percent to $41.90 after reporting a steep
loss on pension liabilities and charges related to Sandy.
All four companies are Dow components, while Google Inc
and Texas Instruments are scheduled to report
after the market closes. 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.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.4 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 18
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.25 points.
Monday was a market holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
in the United States. President Barack Obama at his inauguration
for a second term on Monday called for aggressive action on
climate change, economic equality and the federal budget.
"It remains a question whether Obama will be able to deliver
on his agenda, but a sector like solar power companies could
continue to be strong as he pushes for action," Sarhan said.
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 7
percent to $16.95 in premarket trading a day 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 positive
results from Morgan Stanley and General Electric Co