January 25, 2018 / 12:34 PM / 9 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures higher with ECB, earnings on tap

* Futures up: Dow 62 pts, S&P 8 pts, Nasdaq 37 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Jan 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced on Thursday as corporate earnings continue to roll in and investors awaited a flurry of economic data and an interest rate decision by the European Central Bank.

The ECB decision is expected at 7:45 a.m. EST (1245 GMT), with a news conference by central bank President Mario Draghi at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT).

Draghi may pour cold water on the view that the ECB is speeding toward an interest rate hike due to a rapidly strengthening euro even as the euro zone economy is roaring ahead.

Earnings are expected from companies such as Dow components 3M Co, Caterpillar Inc and Intel Corp on Thursday.

A strong quarterly earnings season and solid economic data have helped propel major Wall Street indexes to a strong start to the year, with each on track for its fourth straight week of gains.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning, earnings growth for the S&P 500 is expected at 12.4 percent. Of the 88 companies in the index that have posted results, 78.4 percent have topped expectations, while 72 percent had done so on average for the previous four quarters.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 8 points, or 0.28 percent, with 125,450 contracts changing hands.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 37 points, or 0.53 percent, in volume of 34,580 contracts.

Dow e-minis were up 62 points, or 0.24 percent, with 26,221 contracts changing hands.

The dollar was modestly lower against a basket of major currencies and held near three-year lows. The greenback suffered its biggest daily percentage drop in seven months on Wednesday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he welcomed a weaker currency.

Economic data expected includes weekly jobless claims and reports on the housing market.

Ford Motor Co shares fell 0.8 percent to $$11.95 in premarket trading after the automaker posted a lower-than-expected quarterly net profit, hurt by rising commodity costs and unfavorable currency exchange rates, and said it expected more pain to come from higher raw material prices in 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Switzerland on Thursday to attend the World Economic Forum, where he will push his "America First" agenda and seek more favorable trade policies for the United States in a speech scheduled for Friday. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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