U.S. stock index futures point to lower start

LONDON Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:34am EDT

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LONDON Oct 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Friday as disappointing earnings from consumer bellwethers Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc dented sentiment.

* Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones were down 0.8 percent, while contracts on the Nasdaq 100 fell 0.7 percent at 0827 GMT.

* European equity markets fell on Friday, weighed down by a fresh batch of gloomy corporate outlooks as demand for everything from cars to building materials is crimped by the euro zone economic crisis.

* Japan's Nikkei share average was knocked off a four-week high on concern that Chinese funds face heavy redemptions after a poor quarterly performance, and as disappointing earnings from Fanuc Ltd dragged.

* Apple Inc delivered a second straight quarter of disappointing results and iPad sales fell well short of Wall Street's targets, marring its record of consistently beating investors' expectations.

* Amazon.com Inc reported its first quarterly net loss in more than five years on Thursday as the world's largest Internet retailer spent heavily and suffered from an economic slowdown in Europe.

* Goodyear Tire & Rubber, the largest U.S. tire manufacturer, is expected to report on Friday lower earnings per share of $0.59 due to weakness in Europe. Weak demand and rising raw material costs have hurt Goodyear in recent quarters.

* Dean Foods Co's Morningstar business has attracted takeover interest from Michael Foods and Mexican dairy company Grupo Lala, people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that could be valued in the $1 billion to $1.5 billion range.

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc plans to open 100 more stores in China and create 18,000 jobs there over the next three years, it said on Friday, in a bid to boost its presence in China's booming but highly competitive hypermarket sector.

* The U.S. Commerce Department releases its first estimate of third-quarter gross domestic product at 1230 GMT. Analysts expect a 1.9 percent advance, faster than the 1.3 percent clocked in the second quarter but not fast enough to quickly bring down the unemployment rate.

* Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers release their final October consumer sentiment index at 1255 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 83.0 compared with 83.1 in the preliminary October report.

* Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable provider, is expected to report a 13 cents increase to $0.46 its earnings per share. Wall Street analysts say NBC Universal revenue could be stronger than expected, in part due to the Olympics as well as the network's surprising lead in prime time TV in the 18-to-49 audience, its strongest start in many years.

* Insurer Coventry Health Care, which is in the process of selling itself to larger Aetna, is expected to report lower quarterly profits of $0.73 per share due in part to continued pressure on government reimbursements.

* The U.S.'s No.2 drugmaker Merck, hit by competition for its Singulair asthma drug, is expected to report lower sales and earnings. But the magnitude of the decline is expected to be largely buffered by gangbuster sales growth of the company's Januvia asthma drug, vaccines and treatments for HIV.

* The Dow Jones industrial average rose 26.34 points, or 0.20 percent, to 13,103.68 on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 4.22 points, or 0.30 percent, to finish at 1,412.97. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 4.42 points, or 0.15 percent, to end at 2,986.12.

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