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U.S. Index Futures Fluctuate Amid Earnings Before Factory Data

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures were little changed, paring an earlier retreat, as investors weighed corporate results while awaiting consumer confidence and factory data for indications on the health of the economy.

General Electric Co. slipped after reporting third-quarter sales that missed analyst estimates.Honeywell International Inc. declined 1 percent as its revenue also missed expectations and the company trimmed its full-year sales forecast.

S&P 500 E-mini contracts expiring in December fell 0.1 percent to 2,016.25 at 8:21 a.m. in New York, with the underlying index on track for its third consecutive weekly gain, the longest streak since May. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts lost 25 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,044.

“It’s not entirely surprising to be pausing here because results have been mixed to this point,” said Nick Ford, a fund manager at Miton Group in London. “We’ve got some quite big economic data out as well -- industrial production and consumer sentiment -- and people maybe don’t want to get too aggressive position-wise in front of that. The key thing though is going to be how earnings shape out over the next 10 days or so and that’s going to be critical for the next direction of the market.”

Data due today will show a preliminary measure of consumer confidence improved in October, while a contraction in industrial output slowed in September, economists forecast.

Equities are rebounding from their worst quarter in four years, with investor sentiment oscillating between concern at the ripple effects of China’s slowdown, and optimism that the Federal Reserve will delay increasing interest rates until policy makers are satisfied that overseas turbulence won’t derail U.S. growth. Traders now don’t see better-than-even odds of borrowing costs rising until March next year.

The focus on quarterly results is intensifying, with earnings at S&P 500 members projected to have fallen 7.2 percent in the last quarter. Energy and materials companies will see the steepest drop, according to analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. slid 9.4 percent afterChief Executive Officer Steve Wynn criticized Chinese bureaucrats who haven’t told him how many gaming tables he’ll get at his $4.1 billion resort due to open in Macau in March. The casino operator also reported lower-than-forecast quarterly revenue.

Youku Tudou Inc. jumped 23 percent after a person familiar with the matter said that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. offered to pay $3.6 billion in cash for its remaining stake in the video website. Alibaba rose 0.5 percent.

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