April 18, 2012 / 11:14 AM / 7 years ago

Stock index futures point to lower open

(Reuters) - Stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100 down between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent at 6:47 a.m. EDT (1047 GMT).

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

European shares drifted lower as losses in utilities, led by Iberdrola (IBE.MC) after ACS (ACS.MC) sold a stake, outweighed strength in miners spurred by a BHP Billiton BLT.L production report.

LVMH (LVMH.PA), the world’s biggest luxury goods group, said first-quarter revenue grew 25 percent thanks to particularly strong growth in Asia and the United States, as wealthy shoppers shrugged off anxiety over global economic recovery.

Copper prices edged higher, holding above $8,000 a metric tonne (1.1 ton), as surging shares in China helped boost sentiment, but gains were kept in check by lingering caution about the euro zone debt crisis and a stronger dollar.

Gold eased, having fallen for the past three trading days, as the euro came under pressure from worries about the euro zone.

Spain should take a rise in its bond yields as a spur to tackle the root causes of its debt woes, not look to the European Central Bank to help by buying its bonds, European Central Bank policymaker Jens Weidmann told Reuters.

BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, is expected to report a slight increase in profits even as revenue dipped. Aggressive cost-cutting and growth of high-margin Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) helped.

BNY Mellon, the world’s largest custody bank, reports first-quarter earnings as investors watch for any negative foreign exchange trading trends amid accusations that the bank overcharged pension fund clients.

American Express is expected to post slightly higher quarterly earnings per share - at $1.0 compared to $0.97 a year earlier - though comparisons to the year-ago results may be out of whack since Amex was releasing money set aside to cover bad loans last year. Also, analysts expect provisioning to increase. Expense growth is likely to slow as the company completes investments in its e-commerce payment gateway business.

Halliburton, the world’s second-largest oilfield services company, will report quarterly results that will show how much it is feeling the squeeze in North American pressure-pumping margins. Analysts believe its U.S. market dominance should insulate it from some of the worst problems suffered by Baker Hughes.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) Chief Executive Warren Buffett said he has stage 1 prostate cancer but his condition “is not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way”.

SXC Health Solutions Corp SXCI.O SXC.TO said it would buy pharmacy benefit manager Catalyst Health Solutions Inc CHSI.O for about $4.4 billion in cash and stock, to expand its presence in the business of paying and processing prescription drug claims.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) will be slower to build electric-powered pickups and other larger vehicles because the batteries to power them are still extremely costly, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said on Tuesday.

Nestle NESN.VX, the world’s biggest food group, is closing in on a deal to buy Pfizer’s (PFE.N) infant nutrition business for up to $10 billion to boost its business in China and extend its lead in the world of formula milk for babies, sources familiar with the matter said.

Huntington Bancshares Inc’s (HBAN.O) quarterly profit beat analysts’ expectations, helped by growth in non-interest income and a fall in provision for credit losses.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc (PNC.N) posted a lower first-quarter profit but beat analysts’ expectations, helped by a fall in provision for credit losses.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 194.13 points, or 1.50 percent, to close at 13,115.54 on Tuesday. The S&P 500 Index .SPX gained 21.21 points, or 1.55 percent, to 1,390.78. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC climbed 54.42 points, or 1.82 percent, to 3,042.82.

Reporting By Francesco Canepa, editing by Nigel Stephenson

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