US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open flat, with earnings in focus


* Durable goods rise but ex-transport figure disappoints

* Consumer sentiment, wholesale inventories data due

* Amazon, Microsoft, Zynga rally after results

* Futures: Dow off 7 pts, S&P down 1 pt, Nasdaq up 7 pts

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to openlittle changed on Friday, holding near record highs, supportedby results from companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and UPS.

The S&P 500 ended Thursday just 0.15 percent away from itsrecord close, in a 23-percent rally so far this year supportedby Federal Reserve stimulus and low interest rates.

Expectations that the Fed will continue its $85 billion amonth bond-purchase program will likely provide a floor forstock prices into 2014.

"The market has focused on good news stories, be it revenueor earnings, so there will be a positive impact from Microsoftand Amazon," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firmLibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"The backdrop is the lack of competition to equities fromfixed income and this extended period of low interest rates," hesaid. "Investors feel they have no alternative but to be inequities."

Meckler said there was a lack of critical view on data andeven on companies with stocks at lofty valuations, includingNetflix, 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 thatrecovery fully?'"

S&P 500 futures fell 1 point and were slightly belowfair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking intoaccount interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on thecontract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 7points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 7 points.

United Parcel Service posted a bigger quarterlyprofit Friday and said it expects online sales to boost holidayvolume. Its shares rose 2 percent in premarket trading.

Amazon shares gained 7.8 percent in premarkettrading a day after the online retailer posted a narrowerquarterly loss and grew sales by a better-than-expected 24percent.

Microsoft Corp cruised past Wall Street estimatesfor quarterly profit and revenue Thursday, helped by strongsales of its Office and server software to businesses, andshares rose 6.3 percent in premarket trading.

Zynga said it expects a full-year profit afterreporting better-than-expected third-quarter results due tocost-cutting and a renewed focus on mobile games and corefranchises. Shares jumped 12 percent in premarket trading.

Dow component DuPont said Thursday it will spin offits titanium dioxide unit into a separately traded publiccompany within 18 months, yielding to intense pressure from WallStreet to divest the volatile business. Shares gained 1.4percent in premarket trading.

New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods outsideof transportation equipment fell in September, possibly due touncertainty over government spending, while a surge in aircraftorders helped boost the headline durable goods number by 3.7percent last month, more than expected.

Data due later in the day include October consumer sentimentat 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT), and wholesale inventories for August at10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT).

View Comments (0)