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Wall Street supported by upbeat Alcoa outlook, Clearwire gets another offer

U.S. markets looked set to open higher on Wednesday, supported by upbeat results from aluminum producer Alcoa (NYSE:AA) last night.   
Wall Street supported by upbeat Alcoa outlook, Clearwire gets another offer

U.S. markets looked set to open higher on Wednesday, supported by upbeat results from aluminum producer Alcoa (NYSE:AA) last night. 

The economic bellwether and the first of the Dow components to report quarterly results said it swung to a fourth quarter profit, meeting analyst expectations. Sales for the fourth quarter also beat forecasts though were lower than a year ago at US$5.9bln. It also predicted global aluminum demand will rise 7% in 2013, compared to 6% in 2012. 

Futures on all of the three main U.S. indices were ahead by more than 0.1%. 

Analysts will have their eyes on corporate earnings with no economic data on tap for today. 

"For the overall earnings season, I don’t really expect anything too far from the norm.  Tendency has been for more positive surprises in the last several quarters and with expectations lowered going into the season, I would expect a similar outcome this year," said president of Padlock Investment Management, Don Lato.  

"The biggest swing factor for S&P earnings overall will be Apple.   Since I don’t think anyone has a true handle of the quarter given the big demand, supply issues and changing margins, the consensus at $13.44 could be anywhere from a 15% too high to 15% too low."

Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to grow 2.8% compared to the same period in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) reported this morning adjusted earnings per share of 63 cents, compared to the 55 cents analysts forecasted. Sales rose 9% to $767 million. Shares in the company were lifted almost 4% before the opening bell. 

But earnings season will really begin in full swing next week, with big U.S. banks due to hand in their quarterly results. 

Later today, Texas Industries (NYSE:TXI), which is forecast to report a loss of 26 cents per share, and Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RB), are slated to report their quarterly numbers. 

In other corporate news, shares in Clearwire Corp (NASDAQ:CLWR) rose almost 8% in premarket trading after the wireless broadband operator received a $5.15 billion buyout offer from Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), creating a potential takeover battle. 

The unsolicited bid by Dish topped an offer by Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) for the half of Clearwire it doesn't already own by around 11%, causing shares of Sprint to fall more than 2% before the bell. 

Commodities 

In electronic trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for February delivery fell $1.40 to $1,660.80 after closing higher in the previous session for the first time in four sessions. February crude oil meanwhile traded near flat, lately down one penny at $93.14 per barrel ahead of supplies data. 

Europe

European markets were mixed today in early afternoon trade. The FTSE 100 lately rose 0.57% while the DAX gained 0.14%. The CAC 40 was off 0.04%.

Alcoa’s optimism gave a fillip to markets in Asia with Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore all ahead near the close, though China was off a touch.



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