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Stock Futures Mixed Ahead of Tech Earnings, Housing Data


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were trading mixed as investors awaited a spate of earnings reports from tech giants and digested a number of reports from major U.S. firms early Tuesday.

Investors were digesting quarterly results from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) , DuPont(DD) , Travelers(TRV) and Verizon Communications (VZ) .

Boeing(BA) shares were sliding more than 1% on ongoing 787 aircraft safety concerns. Japanese and U.S. investigators have begun an investigation into the maker of the lithium-ion batteries used in Boeing's grounded 787 jets, The Associated Press reported.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 15 points, or 26.70 points below fair value, at 13,561. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 1.50 points, or 3.23 points below fair value, at 1477. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 3.75 points, or 0.66 points above fair value, at 2737.

Stephen Guilfoyle, chief economist at, said in a morning note that while a there are a bevy of important earnings releases Tuesday morning and afternoon and money can be made in any number of those names, "we all know that the real bets are being placed on Google(GOOG) and IBM(IBM) ," which release their earnings after the close and can be volatile.

"Actual dough will be made and lost on these two, especially Google," Guilfoyle noted. "The whispers in both cases are higher than the expectation, and many traders are already set up, or taking a pass."

Thomson Reuters said that as of Friday out of the 57 companies in the S&P 500 that reported fourth-quarter earnings, 58% booked earnings above analysts' expectations. This is lower than the long-term average of 62% and lower than the average over the past four quarters of 65%.

Fourth-quarter earnings are expected to grow 2.3% over the fourth quarter of last year, according to Thomson Reuters.

Thomson Reuters also said that 65% of companies, as of Friday, reported fourth-quarter revenue above analysts' expectations. This is higher than the long-term average of 62% and higher than the average over the past four quarters of 50%.

"As a firm we will continue to monitor corporate earnings but don't feel that there are an significant announcements next week that would change our view of the current market conditions," said Paul Pagnato, managing director and partner at HighTower's Pagnato-Karp Group. "We will be paying particular attention to the economic data that will be released."

The Chicago Federal Reserve's National Activity Index on Tuesday showed a decrease to 0.02 in December from 0.27 in November, indicating a moderation of economic growth last month.

The report also suggested subdued inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.

The National Association of Realtors is expected at 10 a.m. EST Tuesday to report existing-home sales data for December. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect that existing-home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.1 million units in December, up from 5.04 million in November.