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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Are Little Changed After Alcoa Earnings

April 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures were little changed, following yesterday’s gain by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as Alcoa Inc. started the quarterly earnings season by posting profit that exceeded estimates.

Alcoa advanced 3.1 percent in early New York trading after forecasting that global demand for aluminum will exceed production this year. Intuitive Surgical Inc. slumped 9.1 percent after predicting that first-quarter revenue will decline by more than a fifth.

Futures on the S&P 500 expiring in June gained less than 0.1 percent to 1,846 at 7:23 a.m. in New York, while contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,204 today.

“Alcoa has kicked off the reporting season with its first quarter numbers,” Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Plc in London, wrote in an e-mail. “The market’s recent lackluster performance offers the potential of something of a recovery. This will largely depend on improving U.S. economic data and, in particular, the strength of the corporate updates in the next few weeks.”

The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent yesterday as technology shares dragged the index higher. The benchmark had retreated 2.4 percent in the previous three-day period.

The Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its March 18-19 meeting at 2 p.m. today. Officials dropped the link between interest rates and a specific level of employment at that gathering. The Federal Open Market Committee said it would look at indicators including labor-market conditions, inflation expectations and financial markets.

Leverage Ratios

The Fed yesterday increased the capital requirements of the largest U.S. lenders. The central bank increased the leverage ratio -- equity held as a proportion of total assets -- to 5 percent from 3 percent. America’s banks will need to find as much as $68 billion in loss-absorbing capital under the new rule, which goes beyond the minimum set by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

Alcoa climbed 3.1 percent to $12.92 as it marked the unofficial start of the earnings season. The largest U.S. aluminum producer posted profit excluding restructuring costs and other one-off items of 9 cents a share, more than the 5-cent average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The company also forecast a global supply deficit of 730,000 metric tons. In January, it had predicted a 106,000-ton surplus.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. are among the S&P 500 companies that report their earnings on Friday. The benchmark’s companies increased their profit per share by 1 percent in the first quarter, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Their sales climbed 2.9 percent, the data show.

Intuitive Surgical plunged 9.1 percent to $445.02. The maker of surgical robots said it probably generated sales of $465 million for the first three months of 2014, a 24 percent decline from a year earlier. Intuitive shipped 87 of its robots in the quarter compared with 164 in the year-earlier period. The company releases its results for the quarter on April 22.

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