U.S. stock futures signal gains; Microsoft eyed

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat to higher open
on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: ) up
0.2 percent, Dow Jones (DJc1: ) futures up 0.1 percent and Nasdaq
100 (NDc1: ) futures up 0.4 percent at 0817 GMT.

* Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: ) 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. For
details, see [ID:nLDE60S04X]. Shares of Microsoft traded in
Frankfurt (MSFT.F: ) 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. [ID:nN27143856]

* The day’s earnings calendar includes quarterly results
from Chevron (CVX.N: ), Honeywell (HON.N: ) and Fortune Brands
(FO.N: ), 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 (AMZN.O: ) blew past analysts’ profit
estimates in its closely watched holiday quarter and forecast
revenue for early 2010 that topped already-high Wall Street
expectations. [ID:nN19226206]

* 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. [ID:nTOE60R05U]

* 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. [ID:nTOE60S02R]

* McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N: ), 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 (Read more about the stock market today. ) 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.

Money

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by David Cowell)

U.S. stock futures signal gains; Microsoft eyed