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Stocks to Open Up Ahead of More Earnings
Source: APO 1/12/2005 6:54:00 AM

U.S. stock futures are trading up Wednesday after Tuesday's dip on Wall Street, as investors await more corporate earnings and U.S. foreign trade data for November.

Dow Jones futures were trading up 19 points recently, while Nasdaq futures were up 7 points and S&P; futures were up 2.10 points.

In London, the FTSE is down recently 0.1 percent at 4816, taking a cue from Tuesday's weak close on Wall Street. ING Financial Markets said the U.K. trade balance narrowed more than expected to GBP4.6B in November versus an initially reported GBP5.3B in October. However, with the outlook for growth in 2005 deteriorating, ING sees rates left unchanged at 4.75 percent at Thursday's BoE meeting.

In Japan, the Nikkei ended down 0.8 percent at 11453.39 as caution over the fast-paced gains since mid-December and a drop in U.S. stocks overnight spurred profit-taking despite good Intel Corp. results, traders said. The index is seen facing strong resistance around 11500 for the time being as traders wait for more quarterly earnings from major U.S. firms.

In U.S. corporate news, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that SABMiller PLC is interested in making a bid for brewer Molson Inc. should Molson's pending merger with Adolph Coors Co. fall apart, according to people familiar with SABMiller's strategy. The ambitions of London-based SAB have increased markedly in recent days, these people say, as the Coors-Molson combination has run into strong resistance from some Molson shareholders.

Airbus retained its dominant position in the commercial aircraft industry in 2004, outpacing American rival Boeing Co. in terms of deliveries, new orders and profitability, Airbus Chief Executive Noel Forgeard said Wednesday. The European builder of wide and narrow-bodied jets delivered 320 aircraft last year, up from 305 in 2003, and 35 more than Boeing's 285.

After the bell Tuesday, Intel Corp. reported that fourth-quarter profits fell 2 percent despite record sales as the company benefited from strong holiday demand for computer chips while it tried to reduce a massive inventory buildup from earlier in the year. Intel, the world's largest maker of chips that are at the heart of personal computers, said it saw strength in microprocessors as well as flash memory, used primarily in cell phones.

Microsoft Corp. said Chief Financial Officer John Connors is leaving to join a venture-capital firm. Microsoft said it is searching for a successor for Connors, who plans to remain as chief financial officer until April and that he is leaving voluntarily. Inc.'s shares declined more than 2 percent as the San Francisco company said fourth-quarter revenue would come in below Wall Street's expectation.

Apple Computer Inc. is expected to report after the bell Wednesday. Analysts expect earnings of 48 cents a share for the first quarter. Also expected to report are Bank of the Ozarks, City National, Mercantile Bank Corp. and Synnex Corp.

The Commerce Department is due to release the foreign trade report at 8:30 a.m. EST. Economists look for a narrowing in the foreign trade deficit for November to $53.6 billion from $55.5 billion.

As fourth-quarter earnings season kicked in, a number of investors gave the boot to stocks like Advanced Micro Devices, Intel and Alcoa. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 64.81, or 0.61 percent, to 10556.22, after being down close to 90 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 17.42, or 0.83 percent, to 2079.62, after having its first up day of the year on Monday. And the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 7.26, or 0.61 percent, to 1182.99.