January 16, 2018 / 12:36 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Dow on track to top 26,000 at open

* Futures up: Dow 231 pts, S&P 12.75 pts, Nasdaq 43.25 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 16 (Reuters) - Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 200 points on Tuesday, indicating that the blue-chip index could open above 26,000 for the first time, supported by strong earnings from UnitedHealth.

Shares of the largest U.S. health insurer rose 3 percent in premarket trading after the company reported fourth-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates and raised its full-year profit forecast.

Citigroup rose 1.05 percent ahead of its earnings.

If the Dow hits 26,000 on Tuesday, it would mark its fastest 1000-point rise. It ended above 25,000 on Jan. 4.

JPMorgan and Wells Fargo kicked off the fourth-quarter earnings season on Friday. More than three quarters of the 26 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, have beaten profit estimates, above the average of the past four quarters, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

At 6:52 a.m. ET (1152 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 231 points, or 0.9 percent, with 71,925 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 12.75 points, or 0.46 percent, with 276,816 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 43.25 points, or 0.64 percent, on volume of 64,602 contracts.

The markets were shut on Monday to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

General Electric shares fell more than 4 percent after the company said it would record a $6.2 billion charge in the fourth quarter, related to its finance arm’s run-off insurance portfolio.

Oil prices pulled back from 2014 highs on Tuesday, with Brent crude dipping 1.38 percent to $69.3 per barrel and U.S. crude trading slightly below $64 per barrel.

Bitcoin tumbled 18 percent to a four-week trough close to $11,000, after reports that a ban on trading of cryptocurrencies in South Korea was still an option.

Shares of cryptocurrency-related companies were all down. Marathon Patent, Riot BlockChain, Xunlei and Overstock.com fell between 4 percent and 13 percent. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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