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Thursday, January 21, 2010 8:05:29 AM

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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Are Little Changed; EBay Shares Rise Share Business ExchangeTwitterFacebook| Email | Print | A A A
By Adam Haigh

Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures were little changed before Goldman Sachs Group Inc. releases earnings.

Goldman Sachs fell 0.8 percent in German trading and is scheduled to report results before the market opens today. EBay Inc., the most-visited U.S. e-commerce site, added 8.4 percent after reporting its first profit increase in more than a year. Starbucks Corp. gained 3.8 percent as it raised its annual profit forecast and posted higher than estimated first-quarter earnings.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in March rose 0.1 percent to 1,135.2 as of 12:13 p.m. in London. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped less than 0.1 percent to 10,555 and Nasdaq-100 Index futures gained less than 0.1 percent to 1,867.75.

“We are quite cautious indeed because valuations are a bit high,” said Pierre-Yves Gauthier, founding partner of the independent research firm Alphavalue SAS in Paris. “The outlook for banks is better results but not of the kind the markets have been discounting so far,” he told Bloomberg Television.

More than 60 companies in the S&P 500 are reporting fourth- quarter results this week and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg forecast total earnings grew 67 percent, with estimates for a 30 percent increase in the first quarter of 2010. The benchmark index’s valuation climbed last week to 25 times its companies’ reported operating profits, the highest level since 2002, following a 70 percent jump since March.

‘Enduring Bull Market’

“2010 could be the year in which the market recovery of 2009 is transformed into a long and enduring bull market,” said Max King, a London-based strategist at Investec Asset Management, which oversees about $55 billion. “The consensus earnings forecast of over 30 percent growth looks not just achievable but beatable.”

China’s economy expanded at the fastest pace since 2007. Gross domestic product jumped 10.7 percent in the fourth quarter from a year before, more than the median forecast of 10.5 percent in a Bloomberg News survey, according to data from the statistics bureau in Beijing.

The index of U.S. leading indicators probably rose in December for a ninth month, signaling the economy will keep growing through the first half of the year, economists said before a report at 10 a.m. New York time. Other reports may show fewer Americans filed for jobless benefits last week and Philadelphia-area manufacturing expanded for a fifth month.

Goldman Sachs lost 0.8 percent to $166.38 in Germany. Analysts are counting on the financial industry to snap nine straight quarters of earnings declines for the S&P 500.

eBay, Starbucks

EBay gained 8.4 percent to $24.09 in Germany. Net income jumped to $1.35 billion, or $1.02 a share, from $367.2 million, or 29 cents, a year ago. Excluding some items, profit was $586 million, or 44 cents. Analysts had estimated 40 cents on average in a survey by Bloomberg.

Starbucks added 3.8 percent to $24.17. Earnings per share will probably be $1.05 to $1.08 this year, excluding some restructuring charges, with sales growth at a “mid-single- digit” percentage rate. Analysts projected an average annual profit of $1.02 a share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Haigh in London at ahaigh1@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: January 21, 2010 07:16 EST

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