Futures rise as better earnings ease nerves

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By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday, as solid results from Microsoft, Lam Research and Tesla lifted sentiment following lackluster reports from big bellwether companies in the previous session.

Third-quarter earnings reports are center stage with investors trying to gauge the fallout from a prolonged U.S.-China trade war, which has already shown up in the domestic economy.

But the narrative so far has been fairly upbeat, with only a small crop of companies including industrial giant Caterpillar (NYSE:), toy-maker Hasbro Inc (NASDAQ:), and chipmaker Texas Instruments (O:) blaming the tariff moves for denting results.

Tech giant Microsoft Corp (O:) gained 1% premarket as its forecast for cloud computing services surpassed analysts’ expectations. Tesla Inc (O:) surged 18.2% after a surprise quarterly profit.

Lam Research Corp (O:) jumped 7% after the chip gear maker forecast strong results for the December quarter.

Chip-related stocks including Microchip Technology (O:), Micron (O:) and Nvidia (O:) also looked set to recover from a selloff in the previous session, sparked by a revenue warning from industry proxy Texas Instruments.

Of the 124 S&P 500 companies that reported results up to Wednesday, more than 82% topped earnings estimates, according to Refinitiv data. But analysts are still forecasting the first earnings contraction since 2016.

Comcast Corp (O:) added 3.4%, while Inc (N:) gained 3% after both companies exceeded profit estimates.

Among the few weak results for the day, Post-it notes maker 3M Co (N:) fell 2.7% after cutting its full-year profit forecast and missing third-quarter revenue estimates.

Twitter Inc (N:) slid nearly 20% after the social media platform posted worse-than-expected third quarter results.

At 7:27 a.m. ET, were up 31 points, or 0.12%. S&P 500 e-minis rose 5.25 points, or 0.17% and were up 43.5 points, or 0.55%.

In a relatively quiet week regarding new twists in the U.S.-China trade rhetoric, focus has shifted to fresh domestic economic data.

PMI surveys for the manufacturing and services sectors, due 9:45 a.m. ET, will offer further clarity on the health of the U.S. economy after a mixed bag of business sentiment indicators from major economies including Japan and the euro zone.

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