US STOCKS-Futures point to higher open on tech results

by Reuters
Thursday, 24 April 2014 12:47 GMT

* Tech results lift Nasdaq futures, Apple and Facebook rally

* Apple announces seven-for-one stock split

* Caterpillar gains after results, 3M down on light volume

* Futures up: Dow 31 pts, S&P 8.1 pts, Nasdaq 57 pts (Adds corporate earnings, economic data)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Thursday, with Nasdaq futures jumping more than 1 percent following a pair of blowout results from technology stalwarts Apple and Facebook.

* Futures were also supported as a variety of bellwether names, including Caterpillar Inc, General Motors and Verizon Communications, rose following results.

* Apple Inc in particular will be in focus a day after the most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization posted revenue that far outpaced expectations, helped by strong iPhone sales. It also approved another $30 billion stock buyback plan, raised its dividend and authorized a seven-for-one stock split. Shares rose 8.3 percent to $568.25 in heavy premarket trading.

* Social media giant Facebook Inc posted a 72 percent jump in first-quarter revenue, lifted by its mobile advertising business. Shares rose 5 percent to $64.41 before the bell.

* Caterpillar Inc rose 4.2 percent to $107.70 in premarket trading after reporting better-than-expected earnings and raising its full-year profit view. Verizon Communications Inc reported a 4.8 percent rise in revenue, lifting shares 0.5 percent before the bell.

* 3M Co, which along with Caterpillar and Verizon is a Dow component, reported first-quarter earnings and sales below expectations. Shares fell 1.6 percent to $136 in light premarket trading.

* Strong earnings have lifted the S&P 500 for six of the past seven sessions, though companies have largely been beating reduced forecasts. According to Thomson Reuters data, profits are seen rising 1.6 percent this quarter, down from the 6.5 percent growth rate estimated at the start of the year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

* S&P 500 futures rose 8.1 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 added 31 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 57 points.

* General Motors Co rose 3.1 percent to $35.46 following its results, while insurer Aetna Inc gained 5.5 percent to $72.70 on better-than-expected earnings.

* Of the 141 companies in the S&P 500 that posted results through Wednesday morning, 65.2 percent have topped expectations, above the long-term average of 63 percent. On the revenue side, 53.6 percent have exceeded forecasts, below the 61 percent long-term average.

* Zimmer Holdings Inc agreed to buy Biomet Inc in a deal valued at about $13.35 billion to broaden its portfolio of products that treat bone and joint-related disorders. Shares of Zimmer rose 19 percent to $108.50 before the bell.

* In the latest economic data, jobless claims rose more than expected in the latest week, while continued claims fell. March durable goods rose more than expected. (Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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