US STOCKS-Futures mixed as Intel offsets Morgan Stanley, China data

Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:25am EST

* Morgan Stanley up more than 6 pct after results

* Weak outlook weighs on Intel

* Futures: S&P up 0.2 pt, Dow down 3 pts, Nasdaq down 8 pts

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, Jan 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday, a day after the S&P 500 rose to its highest level in five years, as a weak outlook from Intel was weighed against encouraging data out of China and a fourth-quarter profit at Morgan Stanley.

Shares of Intel Corp slumped 5.4 percent to $21.44 in premarket trading after the tech company forecast quarterly revenue that was below analysts' estimates and hiked capital spending plans for the year.

Futures got a lift after Morgan Stanley reported a fourth-quarter profit after a year-earlier loss, helped by higher revenue at the bank's institutional securities business. Its stock was up 7.2 percent at $22.25 in premarket trading.

Economic data out of China provided some support to the market. The country's economy grew at a modestly faster-than-expected 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter, the latest sign the world's second-biggest economy was pulling out of a post-global financial crisis slowdown which saw it grow in 2012 at its weakest pace since 1999.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.2 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 slipped 3 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 8 points.

Stronger-than-expected economic data boosted the S&P 500 on Thursday to its highest level in five years. The index is now just 5.6 percent from a record closing peak of 1,565.15.

It would be a normal reaction for investors to take a pause at this point, but any weakness in the market could be a buying opportunity, said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.

"It's the type of market where it's starting to gain momentum and if investors miss the run, they're going to be behind the eight ball early in the year," said Bakhos.

General Electric reported a rise in earnings on Friday, pushing its shares up 3.5 percent in premarket trading to $22.05.

Johnson Controls dropped 2.6 percent to $31.12 after its profit fell and the company forecast further declines.

Overall, S&P 500 company earnings are expected to have risen 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter, Thomson Reuters data showed. Expectations for the quarter have dropped considerably since October, when a 9.9 percent gain was estimated.

AT&T warned after Thursday's closing bell that it will take a fourth-quarter charge of about $10 billion due to bigger-than-expected pension obligations. Shares of the telephone company fell 1.4 percent to $32.74 in premarket trading Friday.

On the economic front, a report on consumer sentiment in early January will be released at 9:55 am ET (1455 GMT).