US stock futures higher as earnings loom

October 12, 2009 (NEW YORK) Futures got a boost Monday from European markets, which jumped after Royal Philips Electronics issued a surprisingly strong profit report. Europe's biggest consumer electronics company earned $256 million in the third quarter. The news helped push Britain's leading stock index to its highest level in more than a year.

Earnings reports will be the key focus of the market this week, with several of the largest U.S. banks issuing their quarterly results. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reports on Wednesday, followed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp.

Better-than-expected first-quarter results from banks set off the market's seven-month long rally in March, and even stronger second-quarter results helped fortify the rally in July.

This time, investors are hoping to see signs that consumer loan defaults, including mortgages, are starting to level off, and will be looking for any potential trouble with commercial real estate loans.

Earnings season got off to a good start last week when aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. issued a surprisingly strong profit report. That helped lift the Dow Jones industrial average to its highest level in a year, giving the index a 4 percent gain for the week, its best weekly performance since July.

Ahead of the market's open, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 50, or 0.5 percent, to 9,857. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures gained 6.20, or 0.6 percent, to 1,074.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 9.25, or 0.5 percent, to 1,734.75.

In late morning trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.2 percent, Germany's DAX index jumped 1.4 percent, and France's CAC-40 was up 1.2 percent. Earlier Monday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished down 0.9 percent. Japan's market was closed for a holiday.

The dollar was mostly lower against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Oil prices added $1.23 to $73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The bond market is closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.

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