Stock futures drop as earnings disappoint

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Published October 19, 2012

| Reuters

Stock index futures dipped on Friday in the wake of disappointing results from Microsoft and Google a day earlier, and after General Electric reported improved profit but fell short of revenue estimates.

General Electric Co said early Friday quarterly profit grew 8.3 percent as solid U.S. and Asian demand for its electric turbines and railroad locomotives offset the impact of slowing European growth and demand.

But quarterly revenue was less than analysts had expected, crimped by a stronger dollar. GE shares dropped 1.6 percent in premarket trading after the results.

"Investor sentiment is hard to recover after Microsoft and Google, although I think the impact will be short-lived. Still, we are looking at a very defensive market here," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist with Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

Diversified U.S. manufacturer Honeywell International Inc reported a 10 percent rise in quarterly earnings as declining natural gas prices helped boost profit at its UOP chemical arm, offsetting weakness in Europe. Still, the stock fell 1.1 percent in premarket trading.

Investors await the release of existing home sales data at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) and news from the second day of the European Union summit for trading incentives.

S&P 500 futures fell 3.3 points 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 lost 27 points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 7.75 points.

European shares dipped in morning trade, but remained on course for strong weekly gains on Friday while Spanish and Italian bond yields hit their lowest levels in over half a year.

Microsoft Corp's said late Thursday its quarterly profit fell a greater-than-expected 22 percent, as sales of computers running its Windows operating system dipped and some revenue was deferred ahead of the upcoming releases of its core Windows and Office products. The stock was down 1.8 percent in premarket trading.

Yahoo Inc's South Korean operation will pull out of the country and end its local Internet portal service in December, Yonhap news agency reported.

Archer Daniels Midland bought a 10 percent stake in GrainCorp on Friday, valuing the Australian grains handler at $2.8 billion, and is seeking talks on a takeover that would give the U.S. agribusiness a stronger platform to supply Asia.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc said Thursday restaurant sales growth would cool in 2013, leading some analysts to believe that could signal the end of impressive growth for the company that investors had come to enjoy.

PC chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices said Thursday it will cut its work force of nearly 12,000 by 15 percent, its second round of layoffs in less than a year as it struggles with a weak global economy and a consumer shift toward tablets.

SanDisk Corp's quarterly results beat expectations late Thursday as rising demand for chips used in smartphones and tablets and a limited supply drove up prices for flash memory, a trend the chipmaker expects will continue.

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with technology stocks hit hard after Google's surprisingly weak earnings disappointed investors.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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