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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Advance Before Federal Reserve Minutes

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures advanced, after equities fell for the first time in three days, as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting to help gauge the strength of the economic recovery.

Analog Devices Inc. rose 1 percent in late New York trading yesterday after quarterly profit and sales exceeded projections. Intuit Inc. dropped 3.9 percent after the maker of financial and tax-preparation software cut its sales and profit forecast for the current quarter. Noble Energy Inc. lost 2.3 percent after Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd. scrapped an agreement to invest in a natural-gas field operated by Noble and four partners in Israel.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring next month rose 0.3 percent to 1,873.2 at 10:20 a.m. in London. The equity benchmark is 1.3 percent away from a record reached on May 13. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts rose 44 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,381 today.

“We know that tapering will continue, so the most the Fed can do is reassure the market that the U.S. economy is on a good track,” Heinz-Gerd Sonnenschein, a strategist at Deutsche Postbank AG, said by phone from Bonn. “Companies that close their quarter later than March show an improvement from the beginning of the year, which suggests that that activity was only weak because of the winter weather. Maybe investors are a little more cautious now with markets trading near records, but the mood is still positive.”

‘Measured Steps’

The Fed releases minutes from its April 29-30 meeting at 2 p.m. in Washington. 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 to $45 billion in April, its fourth straight $10 billion cut, and said further reductions in “measured steps” are likely.

Three rounds of bond purchases by the Fed have helped send the S&P 500 up 177 percent from a 12-year low in 2009. It is trading at 15.9 times the projected earnings of its members, greater than a five-year average of 14.3 times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Analog rose 1 percent to $52.50 in late trading. Second- quarter earnings of 59 cents a share beat the 56-cent average analyst projection compiled by Bloomberg. Sales of $694.5 million also exceeded estimates. The maker of semiconductors forecast third-quarter profit will be between 60 cents to 64 cents per share, while analysts predict 61 cents per share on average.

Intuit dropped 3.9 percent to $73.86 in trading after the close of the New York market yesterday. The company said adjusted EPS for the three months through July 31 will probably be 6 cents to 8 cents, lower than a Feb. 20 projection for as much as 13 cents. Sales will probably not exceed $713 million in the period, compared with the prior forecast of as much as $720 million.

Noble Energy lost 2.3 percent to $67.75 in post-market trading. Woodside ended an agreement to buy a quarter of the Leviathan project off the coast of Israel for as much as $2.6 billion after talks to complete the deal collapsed. Noble owns a 39.66 percent stake in the venture, according to a statement late yesterday.

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