Stocks poised for lackluster open
Bank of America, Citigroup, GE earnings beat estimates. Housing starts, permits for June higher than expected.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks were set for a mixed open Friday as investors remained cautious despite strong earnings from Citigroup, Bank of America and General Electric, and a government report on the housing market that trumped expectations.
"I took it as a pretty positive sign, so I'm surprised that we didn't see more of a reaction," said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets.
At 9 a.m. ET, futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 were lower, while Nasdaq-100 futures were up.
Futures measure current index values against their perceived future performance.
Cook said that the lack of trading enthusiasm could be tied to light volume, as many investors are on vacation, and a deeply ingrained trepidation over the housing sector.
The markets are "headed for the best week of gains since May," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners, before the reports. But he also said stocks will have a tough time making a significant advance Friday, following the strong performances of the last two sessions.
"We're going to need to see some extraordinary news to keep the momentum moving higher on a summer Friday," said Cardillo. "We shouldn't expect too much from the markets today."
Stocks ended higher Thursday after a choppy session, with the Dow Jones industrial average adding 94 points. Investors welcomed the profit of $2.7 billion, or 27 cents per share, from JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), which easily surpassed forecasts.
Earnings: Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) beat expectations for a loss, posting a second-quarter profit of 49 cents per share.
Analysts had expected a loss of 37 cents, compared to a loss of 55 cents in the year-ago quarter.
Citigroup's stock edged up slightly in pre-market trading.
Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) beat expectations with second-quarter earnings of 33 cents per share.
Analysts had expected 28 cents per share, according to a consensus of opinion from Briefing.com. A year ago, the company earned 72 cents per share.
Bank of America stock slipped in pre-market trading.
General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) also topped forecasts when it announced second-quarter earnings of 26 cents per share. Analysts had expected 23 cents, according to Briefing.com consensus. Still, the earnings were down more than 50% from 54 cents a year ago.
GE's stock edged lower in pre-market trading.
Economic reports: The Census Bureau reported that June housing starts jumped to an annual rate of 582,000 units. Starts were expected to have dipped to a 530,000 unit annual rate from a 532,000 unit annual rate in May.
Building permits, a measure of builder confidence, rose to an annual unit rate of 563,000 in June. This is much better than the expected 524,000 unit annual rate from June, and well as the 518,000 unit annual rate in May.
Tech results: Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) reported second-quarter earnings and sales, and said it was seeing signs of stabilization in the advertising market. But concern about a drop in paid clicks, which are a primary source of revenue for the search company, caused the stock to drop 3% in after-hours trading.
IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) posted an increase in earnings that surpasses analysts' expectations, but its lower revenue fell short of forecasts. A raised outlook for second-half profit lifted the technology services company's shares nearly 2% in after-hours trading.
CIT: Shares of small business lender CIT Group (CIT, Fortune 500) will be watched closely. They plunged 71% Thursday, to 41 cents, amid bankruptcy fears after the company said late Wednesday that it will not receive a government bailout. The shares were up 9 cents in after-hours trading.
Global markets: Asian stocks ended the week higher, with Tokyo's Nikkei index up 0.6%. European markets advanced in midday trading.
Oil and money: The price of oil fell 40 cents to $61.62 a barrel. The dollar advanced against the euro, the pound and the yen.