January 24, 2019 / 12:40 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures edge higher, chip results soothe growth worries

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* Futures up: Dow 0.13 pct, S&P 0.17 pct, Nasdaq 0.49 pct

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures eked out some gains on Thursday after a string of better-than-feared earnings from chipmakers helped calm concerns over trade tensions and the longest U.S. government shutdown ever.

Investors were expecting weak reports from semiconductor companies amid warnings of a slowing smartphone market from Apple Inc. But Xilinx Inc and Lam Research Corp reported better-than-expected quarterly results.

Shares of Xilinx rose 9.8 percent and Lam Research 6.4 percent in premarket trading. Texas Instruments Inc missed quarterly revenue estimates but beat on profit, pushing its shares up 1 percent.

Gains in chip stocks helped Nasdaq futures gain 0.5 percent, while S&P futures were up about 0.1 percent.

While earnings reports from U.S. chip companies soothed nerves about the impact of the U.S.-China trade war on their businesses, somber results from Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc fed into the gloom amid China’s economy slowing to its weakest in decades.

At 7:03 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 31 points, or 0.13 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 4.5 points, or 0.17 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 32.5 points, or 0.49 percent.

After a steady start to 2019, in which the S&P 500 hit over one-month high, stocks have lagged this week as fears of slowing growth hit risk appetite. The benchmark index is trading about 10 percent below the record high it hit in September.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde reiterated that the major risk facing the global economy was the U.S.-China trade tensions, which could precipitate the slowdown of the Chinese economy.

More than three-fourth of the 76 S&P 500 companies have reported fourth-quarter results have topped profit estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

But the earnings growth estimates for last quarter have dropped to 14.2 percent from 20.1 percent at the start of October, while 2019 profit growth estimates have come down to 5.9 percent from 10.2 percent in the same period.

Southwest Airlines Co shares rose 3.8 percent after the carrier’s quarterly profit beat estimates. However, the company said the government shutdown had knocked off $10 million to $15 million from its revenue so far in January.

Shares of American Airlines Group also rose 2.4 percent.

A slate of transport companies, including railroad operator Union Pacific Corp, and airlines will report quarterly earnings.

Copper miner Freeport-McMoran and industrial company W W Grainger Inc, whose results are watched for signs on the health of the economy, will also release reports later in the day.

Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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