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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Little Changed Amid Earnings

May 20 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures were little changed, after equities climbed for two days, as investors weighed worse-than-estimated quarterly earnings from Staples Inc. to Home Depot Inc.

Staples tumbled 11 percent in early New York trading, and Home Depot slid 0.9 percent. Urban Outfitters Inc. fell 4.9 percent after posting first-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates. Carnival Corp. gained 2.4 percent after saying its Australian brand will add ships next year.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring next month slipped less than 0.1 percent to 1,881.7 at 7:55 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts fell 3 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 16,478 today.

“We need some positive triggers to move the market higher,” said Espen Furnes, who helps oversee about $85 billion at Storebrand Asset Management in Oslo. “Macro data are still sending clear signals towards a further improvement in the economy. The only issue is that the pricing of U.S. equities is getting less attractive. That could make the market more vulnerable to a possible correction at some point.”

The S&P 500 climbed 0.4 percent yesterday in one of the slowest trading days of the year as Internet and small-cap stocks extended a rebound from last week’s losses. The benchmark gauge ended little changed last week after reaching a record on May 13. The Russell 2000 Index of small-cap shares fell 0.4 percent last week.

Earnings Season

Salesforce.com Inc. and TJX Companies Inc. are among S&P 500 companies reporting results today. About 75 percent of those that have posted results this season have beaten analysts’ estimates for profit, while 53 percent have exceeded sales projections, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Three rounds of bond purchases by the Federal Reserve have helped send the S&P 500 up 179 percent from a 12-year low in 2009. The gauge trades at 16 times estimated earnings, compared with a five-year average of 14.3 times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Fed will release minutes from its latest meeting tomorrow. Policy makers said last month the economy is showing signs of picking up and the job market is improving. The central bank pared its monthly asset buying and said further reductions in “measured steps” are likely.

Staples slid 11 percent to $11.95 after posting first- quarter adjusted earnings of 18 cents a share. Analysts on average had projected 21 cents. The biggest U.S. office-supply chain also said sales will decline in the second quarter from a year earlier.

Home Depot

Home Depot slipped 0.9 percent to $75.80. The largest U.S. home-improvement retailer said first-quarter profit excluding some items was 96 cents a share, missing the average estimate of 99 cents in a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Sales rose to $19.7 billion, missing projections calling for $20 billion.

Urban Outfitters declined 4.9 percent to $34.41 after posting first-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share, missing the 27-cent average projection of analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The teen-clothing retailer also said comparable sales were little changed for the quarter, versus a 0.3 percent gain that analysts predicted.

Graphic Packaging Holding Co. retreated 2.4 percent to $10.43 after saying some stockholders are offering 43.7 million shares, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. acting as the bookrunner.

Carnival Ships

Carnival gained 2.4 percent $39.77 after saying P&O Cruises Australia, one of its 10 brands, will add two ships to its fleet next year. That will bring the total to five, making it Australia’s biggest year-round fleet, the world’s largest cruise-line operator said in a statement. Morgan Stanley raised its stock rating.

Ophthotech Corp. jumped 23 percent to $38.64 in late New York trading. The drug developer granted Novartis AG the exclusive rights to commercialize its Fovista treatment in markets outside the U.S. Ophthotech said it may get more than $1 billion from the deal, including $200 million upfront and further payments if it reaches some targets.

Yahoo! Inc. gained 0.8 percent to $34.17 in early U.S. trading. Its Japanese subsidiary scrapped a deal to acquire eAccess Ltd. from SoftBank Corp. to focus on developing services as part of a strategy to expand into mobile. Yahoo owns a 36 percent stake in Yahoo Japan Corp.

(Corrects to remove reference to royalty revenue in Ophthotech paragraph.)

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