February 20, 2013 / 10:36 AM / 5 years ago

U.S. stock index futures signal more gains

LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly firmer open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones 0.1 percent higher at 0936 GMT, while those for the Nasdaq 100 added 0.2 percent.

* U.S. producer prices, housing starts and building permits for January are all due at 1330 GMT, with the data expected to show a slight acceleration in factory price pressures alongside a continued recovery in the housing market.

* The market focus, though, is likely to be on the minutes from the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee’s January meeting, due at 1900 GMT, which will be scanned for clues on how long monetary policy is likely to remain ultra accommodative.

* The earnings season continues, with Devon Energy Corp. , Fluor Corp. and Newfield Exploration among those due to report.

* With the season now three quarters of the way through, 28 percent of S&P 500 companies have missed full-year earnings forecasts, with 41 percent undershooting on revenues, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.

* Dell Inc : The world’s No.3 maker of personal computers reported a 31 percent drop in profit, hurt by a shrinking consumer business, as investors weighed founder Michael Dell’s offer to buy out the firm.

* Demand Media Inc : The company said it is exploring the separation of its media business from its domain name service, a disclosure that sent its shares up nearly 20 percent in after-hours trading.

* Boeing : The aircraft maker has found a way to fix battery problems with its grounded 787 Dreamliner jets which involves increasing the space between cells, a source familiar with the U.S. company’s plans told Reuters.

* Life Technologies : An $11 billion-plus sale of Life Technologies Corp is looking less likely as a gap in price expectations with the company has left potential buyer Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc skeptical about a deal while buyout firms’ offers came up short, people familiar with the matter said this week.

* Herbalife : The diet supplements company raised its 2013 earnings forecast late on Tuesday.

* Heinz : The FBI is looking into possible insider trading in the options of the ketchup maker before its blockbuster deal last week to be acquired by Warren Buffett and Brazil’s 3G Capital.

* Sina Corp : The operator of China’s largest online portal posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue and profit amid concerns about the slowing growth of Chinese online advertising.

* Milennial Media : The mobile advertising firm’s fourth-quarter sales missed Wall Street expectations, and the company forecast first-quarter revenue below analysts’ estimates, sending its shares down as much as 33 percent after the bell.

* Marriott International : The hotel operator reported better-than-expected quarterly results, aided by rising international travel and higher rates, and said it expects per-room revenue to rise further in 2013.

* Nabors Industries : The owner of the world’s largest onshore drilling rig fleet, reported a 44 percent jump in profit, but revenue fell as its major customers curtailed spending amid the worst slowdown in gas-directed drilling in more than a decade.

* Total System Services Inc : The Payment processor said it will buy prepaid debit card provider NetSpend Holdings Inc for about $1.4 billion in cash to expand its presence in the prepaid card market and target new customers.

* European shares traded flat on Wednesday, consolidating after the previous session’s sharp gains, held back by weak earnings newsflow and as traders cited caution ahead of the minutes to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s January policy meeting.

* The Dow Jones industrial average gained 53.91 points, or 0.39 percent on Tuesday to 14,035.67 points - just 0.9 percent away from its record high. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed up 0.73 percent at 1,530.94, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added or 0.68 percent to 3,213.59.

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