(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a modestly higher open on the Wall Street as President Barack Obama is set to hold talks with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to address the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 15 points to 12,537. The Nasdaq futures inched up 10.50 points to 2,532.50. Standard and Poor's 500 futures added 4.40 points to 1,355.70.
A report before the markets open may show industrial production rose 0.2 percent for October following an increase of 0.4 percent in September.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks extended declines to end in the red, weighed by weak forecast from Wal-Mart and a set of disappointing economic reports amid lingering concerns about the cliff. Obama pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to avert the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
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In corporate news, Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) shed 2.72 percent in premarket after the PC maker posted a 47 percent drop in quarterly earnings as revenue and margins fell and results trailed market expectations. Dell sees challenging global macro-economic environment to continue in the fourth quarter.
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Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) jumped 4.33 percent in premarket after the specialty apparel company raised its earnings view as higher sales and improved margins drove a 60 percent jump in quarterly earnings.
Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) lost 5.15 percent in premarket after the retailer posted a wider third-quarter loss as revenue fell 6 percent due to fewer Kmart and Sears full-line stores in operation and a decline domestic comparable store sales.
Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE: FL) jumped 4.87 percent in premarket after the retailer of athletic footwear and apparel posted stronger-than-forecast quarterly earnings, helped by 10.2 percent jump in comparable store sales.
Hibbett Sports Inc. (NASDAQ: HIBB) gained 1.78 percent after the company boosted its guidance yet again following higher quarterly earnings on growth in sales and expansion of margins. Results topped market expectations.
Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) may be in focus following the software company's quarterly results. Autodesk's third-quarter earnings beat market expectations, but sales trailed consensus amid weak demand.
J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) reported a 17 percent growth in quarterly earnings on acquisitions of Sara Lee foodservice business and favorable sales mix. The maker of branded food products also raised its full-year outlook.
European markets retreated, with Germany's DAX down 0.17 percent to trade at 7,031.42. France's CAC40 shed 0.11 percent to trade at 3,378.73. U.K.'s FTSE 100 declined 0.47 percent to trade at 5,651.22.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index lost 0.77 percent to finish at 2,014.72. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 2.20 percent to end at 9,024.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.24 percent to end at 21,159.01. India's BSE Sensex ended at 18,309.37, down 0.88 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures added 0.89 percent to $86.21 per barrel. Gold futures dropped 0.14 percent to $1,711.40 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro slipped 0.26 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2749, while the British pound inched up 0.11 percent to 1.5884. The dollar dipped 0.05 percent against the Japanese yen to 81.1400.