US STOCKS-Futures flat as investors gauge big companies’ earnings

* Futures: Dow up 7 pts, S&P off 0.75 pts, Nasdaq down 0.75
pts

By Tanya Agrawal

July 18 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were little
changed on Tuesday as investors waited for earnings from big
U.S. companies to set the tone for the markets.

Shares of UnitedHealth Group rose 1.8 percent in
premarket trading after the largest U.S. health insurer’s
quarterly profit beat expectations and it raised its earnings
forecast.

Johnson and Johnson rose 1 percent after the pharma
company’s quarterly revenue grew from a year ago.

The healthcare sector will be under scrutiny after the
Republican healthcare bill to replace Obamacare hit yet another
snag with news that two Republican senators would not support
the latest version of the bill.

This could mean that President Donald Trump’s policies on
tax reform and infrastructure spending will be further delayed.

News on the healthcare bill sent the U.S. dollar to a
10-month low against a basket of major currencies.

As earnings season gets under way, the market will be
keeping a close eye on corporate results to see if the high
valuations are justified in the face of mixed economic data and
tepid inflation.

Analysts’ are estimating an 8.2 percent rise in
second-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 companies from a year
earlier.

This follows a robust first quarter when U.S. companies
posted their best earnings since 2011, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S.

The S&P 500 has been trading at about 18 times earnings
estimates for the next 12 months, compared with the long-term
average of 15 times.

IBM, United Continental Holdings, CSX
and Navient are among the companies scheduled
to report results after the bell.

The U.S. Labor Department is expected to report that import
prices fell 0.2 percent in June after sliding 0.3 percent in
May, while export prices may be flat in June after falling 0.7
percent in May. The data is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

Netflix jumped 11 percent after the
streaming-television pioneer’s added more subscribers than
expected in the second quarter.

Bank of America slipped 0.6 percent despite the
lender posting a growth in quarterly profit.

Shares of JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and
Citigroup had taken a beating last week as their quarterly
results and forecasts failed to excite investors.

Harley-Davidson fell 3.6 percent after the
motorcycle maker cut its 2017 shipments forecast.

Futures snapshot at 6:59 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 7 points, or 0.03 percent,
with 14,845 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.75 points, or 0.03
percent, with 103,093 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 0.75 points, or 0.01
percent, on volume of 17,445 contracts.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Arun Koyyur)


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