January 19, 2018 / 12:34 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Futures climb as investors shrug off govt shutdown fears

* Futures up: Dow 96 pts, S&P 8.5 pts, Nasdaq 32.75 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures pointed to a record open for the benchmark S&P 500 index on Friday as investors bet on strong corporate earnings, while playing down fears of a potential U.S. government shutdown.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to fund government operations through to Feb. 16 and avoid agency shutdowns this weekend when existing allocations expire. The bill has yet to be approved by the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

Equity investors have taken such incidents in stride, and their reactions have been largely muted during the past three shutdowns.

At 6:53 a.m. ET (1153 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 96 points, or 0.37 percent, with 31,034 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 8.5 points, or 0.3 percent, with 136,060 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 32.75 points, or 0.48 percent, on volume of 34,923 contracts.

The three indexes fell on Thursday due to losses in industrials and interest-rate sensitive sectors.

Schlumberger, the first big energy name to report earnings this season, posted a bigger quarterly loss than a year earlier as it took $2.7 billion in charges. Its shares fell 0.5 percent in premarket trading.

Among companies that reported overnight, IBM posted its first revenue rise in 23 quarters, but the company warned that a higher tax rate this year would eat into its profit. Its shares fell more than 3 percent premarket.

American Express slipped 2 percent after the credit card issuer posted its first quarterly loss in 26 years and said it would not buy back shares for the next six months due to the impact of the U.S. tax reform.

Square was up more than 3 percent after brokerage Instinet hiked its price target on the stock by $16 to $64, saying 2018 will be a “phenomenal year” due to positive growth in gross payment value.

Nvidia rose more than 2 percent after BofA Merrill Lynch published a bullish note, saying its stock was trading at a premium value but was justified by its dominance in artificial intelligence, gaming, virtual reality and autonomous cars.

The University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers is likely to show that preliminary January consumer sentiment index rose to 97.0, from a final December reading of 95.9. The report is due at 10:00 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)

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