Empresas y finanzas

Stock futures signal gains; Microsoft eyed

(Reuters) - Stock index futures pointed to a flat to higher open on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.2 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.1 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.4 percent at 3:17 a.m..

MICROSOFT (MSFT.NQ)Corp will be in focus after it posted a bigger-than-expected 60 percent jump in quarterly profit late on Thursday, helped by strong sales of Windows 7, and said it expected business technology spending to recover this year. Shares of Microsoft traded in Frankfurt were up 0.2 percent.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday backed Ben Bernanke for a second four-year term running the Federal Reserve, the world's most powerful central bank, despite deep misgivings over his perceived policy missteps.

The day's earnings calendar includes quarterly results from Chevron , Honeywell and Fortune Brands , while the day's economic agenda includes the Commerce Department's Advance (first) estimate of Q4 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, and the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers' sentiment releases final January consumer sentiment index.

The U.S. economy likely grew at its fastest pace in nearly four years in the fourth quarter as businesses made less aggressive cutbacks on inventories, the government report is expected to show on Friday.

Amazon.com Inc blew past analysts' profit estimates in its closely watched holiday quarter and forecast revenue for early 2010 that topped already-high Wall Street expectations.

Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> expects rapidly recovering demand for its premium computer memory chips and flat screen TVs to drive growth this year, with the unwinding of global stimulus measures the key risk for sales.

Toshiba Corp <6502.T>, Japan's biggest chipmaker, kept its outlook below market estimates on rising materials costs and tumbling TV and PC prices after posting a smaller-than-expected operating profit.

McDonald's Corp , the world's largest hamburger chain, said it expects to boost its capital investment in China by about a quarter this year to tap growth in the world's third-largest economy.

The euro hit a nine-month low against the yen and a six-month low versus the dollar on Friday as concerns about Greece's fiscal situation intensified, while the Japanese currency rose broadly as weaker stocks further clouded sentiment.

Oil was steady near $74 on Friday, heading for a third consecutive weekly drop, as the recovery of the U.S. economy has yet to boost fuel demand.

Japan's Nikkei average fell 2.1 percent to a six-week closing low on Friday, hit by negative earnings surprises from firms such as chip equipment maker Advantest Corp <6857.T>, while European stocks bounced back in morning trade, led higher by a rally in the recently-hammered banking sector.

U.S. stocks dropped on Thursday as poor outlooks from Motorola and Qualcomm dented optimism in the technology sector while worries about Greece's fiscal health dragged on sentiment.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 115.70 points, or 1.13 percent, to end at 10,120.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> lost 12.97 points, or 1.18 percent, to 1,084.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> declined 42.41 points, or 1.91 percent, to close at 2,179.00.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by David Cowell)