Strong Earnings Lift Futures

Includes: DIA, IEF, QQQ, SPY
by: Jonathan Liss

U.S. futures were higher Thursday with the Nasdaq 100 up 13.75 points to 2,071.00, the Dow up 37 points to 13,335 and the S&P 500 up 5.5 points to 1,470.50. Q3 GDP growth was left unchanged at 4.9%, while core inflation was revised up from 1.8% to 1.9%, still within the Fed’s comfort zone of under 2% (full story). Corporate earnings fell $20.5 billion in Q3.

Shares of SLM Corp. (NYSE:SLM) [“Sallie Mae”] dropped more than 20% Wednesday after an abrasive conference call with new CEO Albert Lord. Friedman Billings Ramsey immediately downgraded the company to Market Perform after the call, saying they believe management created more uncertainty on the conference call (full story).

On the earnings front, Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC) missed consensus estimates by a wide margin, losing $6.90 a share on a $1.9 billion writedown of mortgage-related assets (full story). FedEx (NYSE:FDX) topped Wall Street’s estimates in its latest quarter but was forced to guide lower on rising fuel costs (full story). Oracle (ORCL shares were up 7% in pre-market action on a strong beat quarter (full story). Nike shares were higher by 2.8% pre-market, also on results that topped consensus analyst estimates (full story). Accenture (NYSE:ACN) saw its shares climb 5% in pre-market action on a solid beat quarter and raised guidance (full story). ConAgra (NYSE:CAG) rose nearly 6% in pre-market action as it beat the Street’s estimates by $0.08 a share and raised guidance (full story) . Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) is trading up 4.5% in pre-market action after raising its Q3 and full year 2008 outlook.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday saw strong interest at the first of its four scheduled Term Auction Facility, or TAF, auctions. In all, the Fed awarded $20 billion in short-term loans at a rate of 4.65% (full story). Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker said Wednesday he was "uncomfortable" with the country's inflation picture. He sees "very weak" growth ahead as housing weakness continues (full story).

Asian markets were flat Thursday with the exception of Shanghai which rose 2.06% (full story). European markets were higher in intraday action Thursday with London's FTSE up 0.66% (full story). Oil was flat Thursday, while Gold fell $2.10 to $803.30. 10-year Treasuries were down slightly to 101-20 (4.05% yield). Later Thursday sees November’s Economic Indicators and December’s Philly Fed report released. After the closing bell, Research in Motion (RIMM), Micron (NASDAQ:MU) and Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) report earnings.

Seeking Alpha's news briefs are combined into a pre-market summary called Wall Street Breakfast. Get Wall Street Breakfast by email -- it's free and takes only seconds to sign up.