February 4, 2019 / 12:48 PM / 14 days ago

CORRECTED-US STOCKS-Futures eke out gains ahead of Alphabet results

(Corrects paragraph 6 to say average earnings expectations over the past four quarters was 78 percent, not 72 percent)

* Futures up: Dow 0.08 pct, S&P 0.07 pct, Nasdaq 0.09 pct

By Medha Singh

Feb 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were subdued on Monday following a strong jobs report which highlighted strength in the domestic economy, while investors waited for Alphabet’s earnings following a mixed bag of results from other FAANG stocks.

Alphabet Inc rose 0.5 percent in premarket trading ahead of its quarterly results after the bell, and will round up earnings from the FAANG group.

The reports have been a mixed bag, with Apple Inc and Facebook Inc posting better-than-expected quarterly results last week, while Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc gave a downbeat current-quarter forecast.

Still, the indexes held onto their two-month levels, as recent signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks and the Federal Reserve’s signal of slowing down its pace of monetary tightening led to a collective sigh of relief among investors who have fretted over growth.

A nonfarm payrolls report on Friday showed U.S. job growth surged in January, with employers hiring the most workers in 11 months. Still, concerns remained that a slowdown in the rest of the world could hurt U.S. earnings, with warnings from bellwethers including Caterpillar Inc.

Nearly half of the S&P 500 companies that have reported Q4 earnings so far, 70.9 percent beat analysts’ expectations, below the last four quarters average of 78 percent.

At 7:16 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.08 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 2 points, or 0.07 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 6.5 points, or 0.09 percent.

Among early movers, Ultimate Software Group Inc climbed 17.7 percent after the HR software provider agreed to be bought by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman in a deal valued at about $11 billion.

Papa John’s International Inc jumped 6.5 percent after news that hedge fund Starboard Value LP was making a $200 million investment in the pizza chain.

Also in focus will be data at 10:00 a.m. ET which is expected to show factory orders rose 0.2 percent in November compared with the 2.1 percent fall in the prior month.

Last week the U.S. central bank in a sharp reversal of stance from six weeks ago, pledged to be patient with further interest rate hikes, while citing risks including slower growth in China and Europe, U.S.-China trade talks and the impact of a partial government shutdown.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to give a speech on Wednesday, which will be closely followed by investors. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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