Stock Futures Climb on Upbeat Alcoa Earnings

Andrea Tse

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open on Wall Street Wednesday after Alcoa(:AA) kicked off the earnings season with an upbeat report Tuesday and Constellation Brands(:STZ) followed up with a solid quarterly release of its own.

Corporate earnings season is expected to kick into high gear next week as the big banks release their quarterly results. Wells Fargo's(:WFC) report is scheduled for Friday.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 26 points, or 31.15 points above fair value, at 13,293. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 2 points, or 2.75 points above fair value, at 1454. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 1.25 points, or 3.03 points above fair value, at 2715.

Major U.S. stock averages slipped for the second straight day on Tuesday as investors waited on the sidelines for the unofficial start of the earnings season with Alcoa's report.

Alcoa reported in-line fourth-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share on revenue of $5.9 billion, which beat top-line estimates . Analysts expected profit of 6 cents a share on revenue of $5.6 billion.

Shares of Alcoa were up 2% in premarket trading Wednesday.

The company said it expected to be in good position for 2013 on global demand growth in aluminum.

During an interview with CNBC on the company's earnings, Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld warned that the U.S. must resolve debt ceiling issues or see the destruction of market confidence.

Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, issued a note saying that fourth-quarter S&P 500 company growth estimates have steadily come down from September, and have been even lower excluding financials.

Greenhaus said that a major reason for the drop in estimates is expectations that the tech sector may take a hit from Apple(:AAPL). Expectations are that the tech giant may suffer a rare year-over-year drop in quarterly earnings.

Apple shares were down 0.37% in premarket trading.

During this earnings season, investors will also be watching for corporate commentary on whether fourth-quarter profits suffered any collateral damage from the "fiscal cliff" battle.

No major U.S. economic releases were expected for Wednesday.

Gold for February delivery was up Wednesday by 70 cents at $1,662.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil contracts were up 5 cents at $93.20 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 2/32, diluting the yield to 1.865%. The dollar was up 0.23%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

Overseas markets got a boost from Alcoa's positive report, which offset data showing a smaller-than-expected rise in German industrial output in November. The FTSE 100 in London was higher by 0.58%, while the DAX in Germany was up 0.09% Wednesday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished ahead by 0.46% and the Nikkei Average in Japan rose 0.67% as the yen declined on anticipation of more stimulus from the Bank of Japan.

Dish Network(:DISH) offered to acquire Clearwire(:CLWR) for $3.30 a share, or $5.15 billion, topping a bid from Sprint(:S) for the wireless service provider.

Dish shares were up 0.31% while Clearwire shares were surging more than 7.5%.

Wine company Constellation Brands posted third-quarter earnings of 63 cents a share on revenue of $767 million, blowing past the average analyst estimate of 55 cents a share on revenue of $751.8 million. The company continues to experience strong marketplace momentum across its beer, wine and spirits portfolio, and was "well positioned" during the key holiday selling season.

Shares were jumping 4%.

Seagate Technology(:STX), the disk drive maker, on Tuesday raised revenue guidance for the fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 28.

Seagate said it expects quarterly revenue of at least $3.6 billion, higher than its previous forecast of about $3.5 billion.

Shares were adding more than 2.5%.

MGM Resorts(:MGM) said its China arm received official approval Wednesday for its new $2.5 billion casino-resort in Macau.

Share were up 1.9%.

Bank of America(:BAC) shares were down more than 1% after the stock was cut to neutral from outperform at Credit Suisse, based on valuation.

Procter & Gamble(:PG) has announced the appointment of Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren to its board of directors, effective immediately. P&G director Johnathan Rodgers has decided not to seek re-election at P&G's annual shareholder meeting in October, choosing to retire from the board at that time.

Apollo Group(:APOL) shares were plunging more than 8.5% after the private education provider slashed its fiscal 2013 operating income outlook.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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