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U.S. Stock Futures Little Changed Amid Earnings as UPS Tumbles

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock futures were little changed, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell from a record, as United Parcel Service Inc. cut its forecast and investors weighed earnings at companies from Morgan Stanley to General Electric Co.

UPS dropped 3.3 percent after the shipping company cut its fourth-quarter earnings target. Intel Corp. dropped 4.6 percent as its revenue forecast raised concern the personal-computer market is struggling to grow. General Electric Co. lost 2 percent as profit margins at its manufacturing units fell short of guidance. Morgan Stanley gained 1.1 percent after posting fourth-quarter earnings. American Express Co. rose 1.6 percent after saying quarterly profit doubled.

S&P 500 futures expiring in March climbed 0.2 percent to 1,839.30 at 8:05 a.m. in New York. The benchmark index has slipped 0.1 percent since the start of the year. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,357 today.

“As Intel shows, it is becoming increasingly evident that investors are judging corporate earnings on a case-by-case basis,” Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Plc in London, wrote in an e-mail. “There is no firm theme emerging from what had already been lowered expectations.”

The S&P 500 trades at 15.6 times the estimated earnings of its members, more than the five-year average multiple of 14.1, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Consumer Confidence

Housing starts fell 9.8 percent in December to a 999,000 annualized rate following November’s revised 1.11 million pace, which was the highest since November 2007, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of 83 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 985,000. Permits for future projects declined 3 percent to a 986,000 pace.

A separate release 45 minutes later may show industrial production in the world’s biggest economy expanded 0.3 percent last month, according to economists in a survey. Output gained 1.1 percent in November.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment probably climbed to 83.5 this month from 82.5 in December, economists in a Bloomberg survey projected before the preliminary report at 9:55 a.m. New York time.

Seven companies in the S&P 500 including General Electric and Morgan Stanley reported financial results today. Per-share profit for companies in the benchmark probably climbed 4.9 percent in the fourth quarter, while sales increased 1.8 percent, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

UPS Tumbles

UPS dropped 3.3 percent to $97.19 after the shipping company cut its fourth-quarter earnings target and said full- year profit would fall short of its previous estimate.

Intel dropped 4.6 percent to $25.32. The world’s largest maker of computer chips predicted its first-quarter revenue will be $12.3 billion to $13.3 billion. Analysts on average estimate $12.78 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Consumer notebook PC demand is declining in Asia, Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich said.

“People were expecting them to beat and raise, and the guidance was just in line,” said Stacy Rasgon, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst who advises investors to sell the stock.

General Electric slipped 2 percent to $26.66. The company reported operating earnings per share in line with analyst estimates. Profit margins at the manufacturing divisions expanded 60 basis points, according to a presentation posted on GE’s website. That fell short of guidance for 70 basis points of growth that Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt first laid out in December 2012 and affirmed as recently as last month.

Morgan Stanley, owner of the world’s largest brokerage, added 1.1 percent to $32.35 after posting adjusted earnings from continuous operations of 50 cents a share, more than the 44 cents analysts projected.

American Express climbed 1.6 percent to $89.15. The biggest credit-card issuer by purchases said fourth-quarter net income increased to $1.3 billion, or $1.21 a share, from $637 million, or 56 cents, a year earlier.

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