US STOCKS-Futures tick up, with earnings, data in focus

Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:56am EDT

* Durable goods, consumer sentiment, inventories data due

* Amazon, Microsoft, Zynga rally after results

* Futures up: Dow 8 pts, S&P 1 pt, Nasdaq 11 pts

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged up on Friday, holding near record highs, supported by results from companies such as Amazon and Microsoft.

The S&P 500 closed Thursday just 0.15 percent away from its record close, in a 23-percent rally in the year so far that's setting up the benchmark index for its best year in a decade.

Indeed, expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue its $85 billion a month bond-purchase stimulus, a pillar to the equities rally, is seen supporting stock prices into 2014.

"The market has focused on good news stories, be it revenue or earnings, so there will be a positive impact from Microsoft and Amazon," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"The backdrop is the lack of competition to equities from fixed income and this extended period of low interest rates," he said. "Investors feel they have no alternative but to be in equities."

Meckler said there was a lack of critical view on data and even on companies with stocks at lofty valuations - including Netflix, Tesla and even Amazon.

"There is not a lot of doubt globally there is a recovery; the real question is 'has the rise in the market discounted that recovery fully?'"

S&P 500 futures rose 1 point and were slightly 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 rose 8 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 11 points.

The U.S. Commerce Department releases durable goods orders for September at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 2 percent rise compared with a 0.1 percent gain in August.

Also due Friday are October consumer sentiment data, at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT), and wholesale inventories for August, at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT).

Amazon shares gained 8.4 percent in premarket trading a day after the online retailer posted a narrower quarterly loss and grew sales by a better-than-expected 24 percent.

Microsoft Corp cruised past Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit and revenue Thursday, helped by strong sales of its Office and server software to businesses. That sent shares up 5.5 percent in premarket trading.

Zynga said it expects a full-year profit after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results due to cost-cutting and a renewed focus on mobile games and core franchises. Shares jumped 8.9 percent in premarket trading.

Dow component DuPont said Thursday it will spin off its titanium dioxide unit into a separately traded public company within 18 months, yielding to intense pressure from Wall Street to divest the volatile business. Shares gained 2.5 percent in light premarket trading.

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