* Verizon, Travelers, JNJ climb in premarket after results
* 70 S&P 500 companies to report earnings this week
* Lenovo resumes talks to buy IBM’s low-end server unit
* Futures up: Dow 74 pts, S&P 6.5 pts, Nasdaq 18.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Jan 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday, putting the S&P on track to snap a two-session losing streak after a flurry of corporate earnings reports.
* Travelers Cos Inc gained 2.4 percent to $88.50 in light premarket trading after the insurance provider posted a more than three-fold rise in fourth-quarter profit.
* Fellow Dow components Verizon Communications Inc gained 0.9 percent to $48.77 and Johnson & Johnson rose 0.6 percent to $95.61 after posting earnings. IBM is set to report after the closing bell. For the week, 70 S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report.
* Verizon said its quarterly revenue rose 3.4 percent, slightly ahead of Wall Street estimates as it added more subscribers than expected at its Verizon Wireless venture with Vodafone Group Plc. JNJ reported quarterly results that came in above Wall Street estimates on sharply higher sales of its prescription drugs and improving sales of its medical devices.
* According to Thomson Reuters data, earnings for the fourth quarter are expected to grow 7 percent over the prior year. Of the 45 companies in the benchmark S&P index that have reported through Friday, 49 percent have topped analyst expectations, below both the long-term average of 63 percent and the average over the past four quarters of 66 percent.
* As the Federal Reserve has embarked on its plan to reduce economic stimulus, investors will closely monitor corporate profits for signs of growth. About eight companies have issued negative outlooks for every positive one, which would mark the lowest ratio on record should it continue.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures gained 6.5 points and were 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 74 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 18.75 points.
* Forest Laboratories Inc jumped 8.2 percent to $74.40 in premarket after the drugmaker’s results handily beat analysts’ estimates in the first full quarter under new Chief Executive Brent Saunders, and the company raised its full-year profit forecast.
* Delta Air Lines Inc rose 2.8 percent to $31.95 before the opening bell after it reported a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday, aided by lower fuel costs.
* China’s Lenovo Group Ltd has resumed talks to buy IBM’s low-end server unit, a source familiar with the matter said, a purchase that would bolster its efforts to diversify beyond a shrinking PC market.
* Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, the world’s biggest brewer, agreed to buy back South Korea’s Oriental Brewery Co Ltd for $5.8 billion including debt, returning to a large Asian market at a time of strong industry growth across the region. U.S.-listed shares of Anheuser gained 2.9 percent to $104.40 in premarket.
* Alcoa Inc advanced 3.3 percent to $11.73 before the opening bell after JP Morgan upgraded the stock to an ”overweight“ from a neutral” rating and boosted its price target to $15 from $9 per share.