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U.S. Stock Futures Advance After Alcoa Sales Beat Forecasts

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock futures rose, after a two- day decline for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as Alcoa Inc. kicked off the earnings season by posting fourth-quarter sales that exceeded analysts’ estimates.

Alcoa gained 2.1 percent as it also said global demand will recover as China’s economy rebounds. Clearwire Corp. surged 7.9 percent after it received an unsolicited offer from Dish Network Corp. countering an offer by Sprint Nextel Corp. Apollo Group Inc. fell 9.1 percent after reporting an 11 percent drop in first-quarter earnings.

S&P 500 futures expiring in March rose 0.1 percent to 1,454.40 at 8:12 a.m. in New York. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 28 points, or 0.2 percent, to 13,295 today. The number of shares changing hands in Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s companies was 62 percent above the 30-day average at this time of day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It was definitely a positive start to the reporting season and also important because it’s such a business-cycle sensitive company,” said Witold Bahrke, a senior strategist at PFA Pension A/S in Copenhagen, where he helps oversee $55 billion. “It gives us some positive indications regarding global demand. Still, I don’t think the reporting season will be able to overshadow politics - political uncertainty will stay with us in the beginning of 2013.”

The S&P 500 retreated 0.3 percent yesterday, after rallying to a five-year high last week as U.S. lawmakers approved a last- minute compromise budget that avoided most scheduled deficit- reduction measures. Fourth-quarter profit at companies in the S&P 500 probably increased 2.9 percent, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That would mark the second- slowest quarterly growth since 2009.

Rising Demand

Alcoa rose 2.1 percent to $9.29. Sales fell to $5.9 billion from $5.99 billion, beating the $5.6 billion average of 11 estimates. Aluminum prices are rising as demand in China and the U.S. increases while record amounts are being shut away in warehouses as part of financing deals.

Clearwire surged 7.9 percent to $3.15. The wireless-network operator that agreed to be bought out by Sprint Nextel Corp. last month for $2.97 a share received an unsolicited offer from Dish Network at a price that’s 11 percent higher.

Dish Offer

Dish bid $3.30 a share for outstanding stock in the company, which is majority-owned by Sprint, Clearwire said in a statement. Clearwire’s board plans to discuss the proposal with Dish, though it has made no decision to reconsider Sprint’s offer. The bid would value the entire company at about $5 billion. Sprint lost 2 percent to $5.85.

Seagate Technology Plc jumped 2.9 percent to $32.31. The company said sales rose to at least $3.6 billion in the fiscal second quarter, exceeding an earlier forecast for $3.5 billion as it maintained share in the computer hard-drive market.

Facebook Inc., the world’s largest social network, rose 1.7 percent to $29.55.

Apollo Group tumbled 9.1 percent to $19.03. The owner of the University of Phoenix and the biggest U.S. for-profit college said first-quarter earnings fell 11 percent as new enrollment declined for a third straight quarter.

Net income for the three months ended Nov. 30 decreased to $133.5 million, or $1.18 a share, from $149.3 million, or $1.14, a year earlier, Phoenix-based Apollo said in a statement.

Separately, Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to equal weight, similar to a neutral rating, from overweight.

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