Stock Futures Shed Losses, Turn Positive


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Stock-index futures made a move to the upside on Tuesday as traders parsed through a slew of corporate and economic developments on the heels of a steep selloff in the prior session.

Today's Markets

As of 9:15 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 13 points to 11,314, S&P 500 futures gained 3 points to 1,197, and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 14 points to 2,335.

Trading on Wall Street has been tumultuous in recent weeks.  Last week, the markets posted the best performance since 2009, but then jitters over the sovereign debt crisis in Europe sent the Dow diving more than 240 points in the worst rout since early-October on Monday.  The blue chips have also fallen back into the red for the year.

Market participants have many developments to mull on Tuesday.

Earnings Season in Full Swing

Several blue chips report earnings before the opening bell, including Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO).

Bank of America earned 56 cents a share in the third quarter, well higher than the 77 cent loss it reported last year.  However, an accounting gain and a pretax asset sale, two elements that wouldn't be expected to show up in continuing earnings, were the driver of much of the gains. Shares of the biggest U.S. bank by assets were off by more than 2% as analysts parsed through the earnings statement.

Coca-Cola revealed adjusted profits of $1.03 a share, edging out analysts' estimates by a penny.  The world's biggest soft-drink maker also saw its sales jump 45%.

Medical giant Johnson & Johnson revealed adjusted third-quarter net profits of $1.24 a share, beating forecasts by 3 cents.

Goldman Sachs posted a much wider-than-expected quarterly loss of 84 cents a share for the third quarter, compared with calls by analysts of a loss of 16 cents.  The loss was the second in the investment-banking heavyweights history as a publicly traded company.

Inflation Heats Up

Prices at the wholesale level jumped 0.8% in September, according to the Labor Department, a much quicker pace than the 0.2% economists forecast.  Excluding the more volatile food and energy component, prices rose 0.2%, also topping forecasts of 0.1%.

On the global front, China's economy grew at an annualized pace of 9.1% in the third quarter, short of the 9.3% analysts expected, and the slowest pace since 2009.  The specter of slowing expansion for the world second-largest economy pressured global commodity markets, specifically gasoline and certain metals.

Crude oil recently slipped 29 cents, or 0.33%, to $86.53 a barrel.  Wholesale RBOB gasoline tumbled 9 cents, or 3.2%, to $2.73 a gallon.

Copper, an industrial metal, took a particularly strong beating, tumbling 3.1% to $3.27 a pound. Silver was off 2.3% to $2.72 a troy ounce. Gold slipped $20.50, or 1.2%, to $1,656 a troy ounce.

Traders were also paying attention to developments from Europe, where Moody's said it could put France's top-notch credit rating on watch for a potential downgrade.  The ratings company said the move came as a result of the financial turmoil and weakening economic prospects.

The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks European blue chips, fell 1.4%.  The euro slipped 0.38% to $1.37, while the greenback rose 0.37% against a basket of world currencies.

With the recent volatility in equities and commodities, investors have once again started moving back into safe-haven assets.  The yield the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.098% from 2.157%.  Bond yields move in the opposite direction of prices, so as demand ramps up, yields fall.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 1.4% to 2,284, the English FTSE 100 slid 1.4% to 5,360 and the German DAX dipped 0.77% to 5,815.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 dropped 1.6% to 8,742 and the Chinese Hang Seng plunged 4.2% to 18,076.