January 19, 2011 / 1:02 PM / 9 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures little changed as bank earnings eyed

* Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo to report

* Strong Apple, IBM profits raise earnings season hopes

* Futures: S&P down 0.6 pt, Dow flat, Nasdaq up 0.25 pt

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US] (Adds quote)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, Jan 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday as investors awaited results from Goldman Sachs Group and Wells Fargo after financial stocks fell in the previous session on disappointing results from Citigroup.

A number of banks are scheduled to release results throughout the day, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), which is expected to report a 50 percent fall in quarterly profit because of the same weak fixed income trading environment that hurt Citigroup Inc results (C.N). For details, see [ID:nN18199881]

Despite concerns over bank results, strong earnings from Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) late Tuesday reinforced hopes of an overall strong earnings season.

“There is no question the bulls are in control as we see some quality earnings coming in. If Goldman Sachs earnings are disappointing, will it derail the current sentiment? I don’t think so,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.

Apple’s profit blew past Wall Street expectations on strong sales of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. The results offered some reassurance to investors worried over what impact the latest medical leave by Chief Executive Steve Jobs would have on growth. [ID:nN18171874]

Apple shares were up 2 percent at $347.39 in premarket trade after a number of brokerages, including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill raised their price targets on the stock.

IBM’s quarterly profit also easily topped estimates, and a recovery in its services business raised hopes that global companies would spend more on technology. [ID:nN18146899] The stock was up 2.6 percent at $154.60 in premarket trade.

S&P 500 futures SPc1 fell 0.7 point 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 DJc1 were unchanged, while Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 gained 0.25 point.

Optimism about earnings has bolstered equities, with the S&P 500 .SPX ending last Friday with its seventh straight week of gains.

On the economic front, U.S. housing starts for December is due at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT). (Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

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