US STOCKS-Futures little changed with eyes on Washington talks

Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:27am EDT

* JP Morgan climbs in premarket, despite loss in quarter

* Washington political talks continue to end crisis

* UMich data on tap

* Futures up: Dow 11 pts, S&P 0.1 pts, Nasdaq 1.5 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Oct 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday, on the heels of the biggest rally since the first trading day of the year, as talks continued in Washington to end a fiscal stalemate that has shut down the government for days.

After meeting at the White House on Thursday, President Barack Obama and Republican leaders appeared ready to end a crisis that has shut much of the U.S. government since Oct. 1. The crisis began late in September as Republicans tied continued government funding to measures that would undercut the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature legislative accomplishment.

Although no deal emerged from the 90-minute meeting, talks continued into the night in an effort to re-open the government and extend the government's borrowing authority beyond an Oct. 17 deadline. Failure to lift the cap could spark a financial crisis and tip the U.S. economy, the world's largest, into recession, with damaging repercussions that would be felt worldwide.

"Nobody knows what is going to come out of this meeting. I'm encouraged that at least they got together - that's a step in the right direction," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"All rhetoric about default is driving markets. No one knows what happens if the U.S. defaults even for a little while, that is the big cloud hanging over all of us."

Major U.S. stock indexes staged their strongest rally in more than nine months on Thursday, leaving the S&P 500 less than 2 percent away from its record closing high set three weeks ago.

JPMorgan Chase & Co rose 2.6 percent to $53.89 in premarket trading, even as the biggest U.S. bank by assets reported a rare quarterly loss after incurring $9.2 billion in legal expenses. Excluding litigation expense and reserve release, it earned a profit of $5.82 billion, or $1.42 a share.

Wells Fargo & Co rose 0.8 percent to $41.67 in premarket after the biggest U.S. mortgage lender reported a 13 percent rise in third-quarter profit after reducing the amount it had previously set aside for bad loans.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 point and were slightly below 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 gained 11 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 1.5 points.

Later in the session at 9:55 a.m. EDT (1355 GMT), the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers October preliminary consumer sentiment index is due to be released. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 76.0 compared with 77.5 in the final September report.

Micron Technology Inc fell 2.3 percent to $18 before the opening bell, after the chipmaker reporting a smaller-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday.

European and Asian stocks edged higher as investors perceived progress in Washington to avert a possible debt default.

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