* Disney climbs after results
* Visa earnings on tap
* Futures off: Dow 51 pts, S&P 6 pts, Nasdaq 9.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Feb 6 U.S. stocks were poised to open
lower Wednesday, indicating the S&P 500 may retreat as it faces
resistance to further gains beyond five-year highs in the wake
of a 1-percent rally on Tuesday.
A 6-percent advance this year so far has lifted the S&P 500
index to its highest since December 2007, while the Dow
briefly climbed above 14,000, making it a challenge for
investors to continue pushing the equity market upward amid a
dearth of fresh trading incentives.
Walt Disney Co beat estimates for quarterly adjusted
earnings and said it expected the next few quarters to be
better, with a stronger lineup of movies and rising attendance
at its theme parks. Shares advanced 2.8 percent to $55.81 in
"You knew a correction was coming; the question was whether
they were going to tease you and get it close and then start
selling it off or get it up to 14,000 and then start to make a
move to the sell side," said Gordon Charlop, managing director
at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
"We got a quick move and it's really just not healthy for
markets to go one way, so the idea that a little bit of a
correction is due isn't troublesome to me at all."
According to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning,
of 278 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported
earnings, 68.7 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations,
above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the
past four quarters. In terms of revenue, 66 percent of companies
have topped forecasts.
In another positive sign for profits, fourth-quarter
earnings for S&P 500 companies are now expected to grow 4.5
percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at
the start of the earnings season.
S&P 500 futures fell 6 points and were 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 lost 51
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 9.75 points.
The benchmark S&P index rose 1.04 percent Tuesday, its
biggest percentage gain since a 2.5-percent advance on Jan. 2,
when legislators sidestepped a "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts
and tax hikes that could have hurt a fragile U.S. economic
Visa, the world's largest credit and debit card
network, is expected to report earnings per share of $1.79 for
its first quarter, up from $1.49 a year earlier. Smaller rival
MasterCard recently reported better-than-expected results
but said its revenue growth could slow in the first half of the
year due to economic uncertainty.
Ralph Lauren Corp climbed 5.5 percent to $174 in
premarket trading after the fashion company and retailer
reported holiday quarter sales and profits that showed renewed
Time Warner Inc gained 3.1 percent to $51.49 before
the bell after reporting higher fourth-quarter profit that beat
Wall Street estimates, as growth in its cable networks offset
declines in its film, TV entertainment and publishing units.