January 25, 2018 / 2:07 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street to open higher on solid earnings, dollar drop

* Caterpillar, Biogen climb after earnings

* Dollar slumps after Draghi comments

* Futures up: Dow 126 pts, S&P 11.25 pts, Nasdaq 51.25 pts (Updates prices, adds earnings reports)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Jan 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were poised for a higher open on Thursday, buoyed by solid earnings reports and a decline in the dollar after comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

Caterpillar Inc shares surged 3.51 percent in premarket trading after the world’s largest heavy duty equipment maker trounced profit forecasts for a seventh quarter. Buoyant global demand and a recovery in commodities markets drove a 35 percent surge in sales of its construction and mining equipment.

Biogen Inc gained 3.32 percent before the opening bell after the drugmaker reported fourth-quarter revenue that beat Wall Street estimates on higher sales of its recently launched drug Spinraza.

“It’s more of the same, it’s more investor optimism with regard to the economy, with regard to earnings,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

“The optimism is there that people don’t want to miss this.”

Robust quarterly earnings reports and economic data have helped propel major Wall Street indexes to a strong start this year, with each on track for a fourth week of gains.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning, earnings growth for the benchmark S&P 500 is expected at 12.4 percent. Of the 88 companies in the index that have posted results, 78.4 percent have topped expectations, while 72 percent had done so on average for the previous four quarters.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 11.25 points, or 0.4 percent, with 177,432 contracts changing hands.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 51.25 points, or 0.74 percent, in volume of 48,177 contracts.

Dow e-minis were up 126 points, or 0.48 percent, with 41,538 contracts changing hands.

The European Central Bank kept its ultra-easy policy firmly on hold but weakness in the U.S. dollar accelerated as Draghi talked up the euro zone economy.

The dollar fell 0.52 percent against a basket of major currencies and held near three-year lows. A weaker dollar tends to benefit large U.S. multinational companies.

The greenback suffered its biggest daily percentage drop in seven months on Wednesday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he welcomed a weaker currency.

On Thursday, Mnuchin said a weaker dollar benefited U.S. trade balances in the short term but that he believed in the long-term strength of the currency.

Weekly initial jobless claims rose to 233,000 from a downwardly revised 216,000 in the prior month, but were less than the 240,000 forecast, indicating the labor market continues to tighten.

December new home sales data is expected at 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).

Ford Motor Co shares fell 1.00 percent in premarket trading after the automaker posted a lower-than-expected quarterly net profit. The company’s bottomline was hurt by rising commodity costs and unfavorable currency exchange rates, and it expected more pain to come from higher raw material prices in 2018.

After the close of trading on Thursday, results are expected from Intel Corp and Starbucks Corp. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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