January 26, 2017 / 2:01 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open slightly higher as earnings roll in

* Caterpillar falls after posting bigger quarterly loss

* Comcast rises after results beat expectations

* Weekly jobless claims rise

* Futures: Dow up 6 pts, S&P down 1 pt, Nasdaq up 6.75 pts (Adds details, comment, updates shares)

By Tanya Agrawal

Jan 26 (Reuters) - Wall Street looked set to open slightly higher on Thursday as investors assessed a spate of corporate earnings, a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average breached the 20,000 milestone.

Earnings are expected to show growth of 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter, their biggest increase in two years. Of the 104 S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far, nearly 70 percent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“We are poised for a slightly higher open,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

“Today is about earnings and part of the Dow reaching the 20,000 milestone is because of strong earnings. Sure, Trump’s initiatives have been an element in the rise but the fundamentals of the market remain strong.”

The post-election rally has roared back to life following optimism over U.S. President Donald Trump’s pro-growth initiatives and a string of solid earnings reports.

Trump’s business-friendly decisions since taking office on Friday include signing executive orders to reduce regulatory burden on domestic manufacturers and clearing the way for the construction of two oil pipelines.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite indexes also closed at record highs for the second consecutive session on Wednesday.

Dow e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.03 percent, with 26,386 contracts changing hands at 8:32 a.m. ET (1332 GMT).

S&P 500 e-minis were down 1 points, or 0.04 percent, with 125,662 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 6.75 points, or 0.13 percent, on volume of 25,539 contracts.

Tech giants Intel, Alphabet, Microsoft and Starbucks are scheduled to report after market close.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 22,000 to 259,000 for the week ended Jan. 21, the Labor Department said on Thursday. However, the underlying trend remained consistent with tightening labor market conditions.

The Commerce Department will release numbers for U.S. single-family home sales in December. The report, which is expected to show a slight dip in sales from the previous month, is due at 10 a.m. ET.

Caterpillar shares fell 1.4 percent to $96.75 after the world’s largest construction and equipment maker reported a bigger fourth-quarter loss.

Comcast was up 2.1 percent at $75 as the nation’s largest cable operator’s quarterly results beat estimates.

Biogen was up 1.7 percent at $277.83 after the drugmaker reported results.

EBay jumped 7.5 percent to $32.50, a day after the e-commerce company reported a rise in revenue for the fourth-quarter holiday period.

Whirlpool fell 4.6 percent to $181.50 after the world’s largest maker of home appliances posted a quarterly profit that came in below expectations. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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