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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Advance as Verizon Gains on Earnings

Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures advanced as the nation’s equity markets reopen after a holiday and as investors weigh earnings reports from companies including Verizon Communications Inc.

Verizon climbed 1.3 percent in pre-market New York trading after posting fourth-quarter profit that beat estimates. General Electric Co. rose as it was said to be interested in bidding for British oilfield-services company Expro International Group. SolarCity Corp. fell 3.5 percent after JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its rating on the stock.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in March rose 0.3 percent to 1,840 at 7:40 a.m. in New York. Equity trading resumes today after a holiday to mark the birthday of civil- rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The S&P 500 fell last week, after touching an all-time high, as some companies missed earnings estimates. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 64 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,461 today.

“Risk is cheap,” said Frederic Jamet, who helps oversee $2.2 trillion for State Street Global Advisors from Paris. “It is still time to buy equities. We don’t face any problems a priori with the U.S. In Europe, we are moving from zero growth to slow, yet reasonable, growth. We favor risk, cyclical and growth stories to so-called safe assets.”

Investors are the most upbeat about the global economy in almost five years, encouraged by the U.S.-led revival of industrialized nations, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll. Seventy-two percent in the survey of Bloomberg subscribers said the U.S. economy is improving, up from 53 percent a year ago.

Earnings Scorecard

Verizon rose 1.3 percent to $49 in early New York trading after posting fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of 66 cents a share, compared with analysts’ estimate of 65 cents.

Johnson & Johnson, International Business Machines Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc. are among the other companies reporting earnings today. Of the 57 S&P 500 members that have reported results so far this season, 65 percent have beaten estimates for profit and 67 percent have exceeded sales projections, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect S&P 500 companies to post earnings growth of 6.1 percent and sales increase of 3.6 percent in the first quarter.

General Electric gained 0.6 percent to $26.74. People familiar with the matter said GE is among the three potential bidders for Expro, a company controlled by Arle Capital Partners LLP. The sale could fetch about 3 billion pounds ($4.9 billion) for the U.K. buyout firm, they said.

Alcoa Rating

Alcoa Inc. advanced 2.3 percent to $11.62. JPMorgan raised its rating on the largest U.S. aluminum producer to overweight, a recommendation similar to buy, from neutral. The brokerage boosted its 12-month price estimate for the stock to $15 from $9 and said increasing premiums and a tightening supply situation will support the company’s earnings growth.

Tyson Foods Inc. gained 2.7 percent to $36 after saying it acquired the assets of Bosco’s Pizza Co. of Warren, Michigan. The company didn’t disclose the terms.

SolarCity dropped 3.5 percent to $72.50 after JPMorgan downgraded the stock to neutral from overweight, citing its recent rally. SolarCity has jumped 32 percent since the start of the year, while the S&P 500 has slipped 0.5 percent.

Regions Financial Corp. declined 2.1 percent to $10.35. The lender reported one-time charges in the fourth quarter that reduced net income by $75 million and diluted earnings per share by 5 cents.

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