Stocks headed for early gains

@CNNMoneyInvest January 10, 2012: 8:15 AM ET

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were headed for a higher open Tuesday, following some upbeat comments about Europe and a mildly decent start to quarterly earnings reports.

Fitch Ratings said Europe is on the right path and officials reiterated that France was unlikely to face a downgrade this year.

And the unofficial start of quarterly earnings season kicked off late Monday, with Dow component Alcoa (AA, Fortune 500) reporting a loss, in line with expectations, and slightly better sales.

"Europe seems cautiously positive and we have more earnings later this week," said Stan Bokov, chief operations of TradingView. "That will be determining the day ahead."

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures rose about 0.9% ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

While no major corporate reports are scheduled for Tuesday, the rest of the week will bring reports from Lennar (LEN), and JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500).

Overall, earnings for companies in the S&P 500 are expected to be up 7.5% in the final three months of 2011 versus the same period in 2010, according to research from S&P Capital IQ.

Meanwhile, investors found comfort in Fitch's comments about Europe.

"The unwinding of the imbalances that led to the crisis is well underway and the headwinds ... should being to ease towards the end of the year," said David Riley head of Fitch's sovereign group, at a presentation in London.

On the sidelines of the presentation, Fitch officials also reiterated the agency's December stance that it doesn't plan to downgrade AAA-rated France this year.

Fitch's head of ratings also indicated there's a "significant chance" of a downgrade for Italy. The ratings agency plans to make a decision on all of the European countries it currently has on negative watch, by the end of the month.

Stocks managed to eke out gains Monday as investors remained on edge about Europe's ongoing crisis, while bracing for corporate earnings.

World markets: Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) gained 1.1%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany added 2.3% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) climbed 2.4%.

European bank shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange also posted solid gains early Tuesday. Deutsche Bank (DB) climbed 5.4%, UBS (UBS) added 3.2% and Credit Suisse (CS) gained 2.7% in premarket trading.

Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) rose 2.7%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong ticked up 0.7% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) added 0.4%.

Companies: Bank stocks moved broadly higher with, Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) rising between 2% and 2.5%.

Shares of Tiffany (TIF) slid 7% in premarket trading after the luxury retailer cut its outlook for the year, blaming weak holiday sales in the United States and Europe.

On the upside, Lululemon Athletica's (LULU) stock jumped 10% after the apparel maker raised its fourth-quarter earnings guidance.

Earnings outlook: Bye-bye, double-digit growth

Liz Claiborne (LIZ) shares tumbled 4.3% in premarket trading, after the apparel company lowered its 2012 outlook and announced the departure of its chief financial officer, Andrew Warren. Warren is leaving the company to work as CFO at Discovery Communications (DISCA).

Liz Claiborne is changing its name to Fifth & Pacific Companies, and will trade under the ticker symbol FNP starting in May. The company sold its namesake brand toJ.C. Penney (JCP, Fortune 500) in October.

Shares of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) fell 1.6% following reports that the drugmaker was trying to sell the remainder of its over-the-counter brands as soon as possible. Last month, Glaxo sold brands, including Beano and Ecotrin, to Comet and Pediacare maker Prestige Brands Holdings (PBH) for $660 million.

Economy: The Census Bureau will release data on wholesale inventories for the month of November on Tuesday morning. Analysts surveyed by expect inventories to have increased by 0.6% in November, after expanding by 1.6% in October.

Consumer credit increased by $20.4 billion in December, according to data released Monday by the Federal Reserve. It was the biggest jump since 2001.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Oil for February delivery added $1.65 to $102.96 a barrel.

Gold futures for February delivery gained $25.60 to $1,633.70 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 1.98% from 1.96% late Monday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 32,627.97 -234.33 -0.71%
Nasdaq 13,215.24 99.07 0.76%
S&P 500 3,913.10 -2.36 -0.06%
Treasuries 1.73 0.00 0.12%
Data as of 6:29am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET
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15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
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