US STOCKS-Microsoft, Ford earns, European data lift futures

* Microsoft, Ford profits top estimates

* European data positive ahead of bank stress tests

* Futures up: Dow 42 pts, S&P 4.2 pts, Nasdaq 10 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Adds McDonald’s earnings)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, July 23 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stock index futures rose
on Friday, as another batch of solid corporate results,
including Microsoft and Ford, along with positive economic data
in Europe eased fears about the strength of a recovery.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: ) edged up 0.5 percent to $25.97 in
premarket trading after easily beating expectations with a 48
percent rise in quarterly profit. For details, see
[ID:nN21206486]

* Ford Motor Co (F.N: ) climbed 3.6 percent to $12.53 after
the automaker posted stronger-than-expected earnings and said
it was on track to be profitable in 2010 with second half
earnings lower than the first half. [ID:nN23252485]

“You are getting more on the revenue side and earnings side
to indicate a soft patch as opposed to double dip with the
exception of housing and jobs growth. So some of the fear that
was building into the market is coming off,” said Paul
Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial
Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

Solid economic data in Europe also helped boost futures, as
Britain’s economy grew almost twice as fast as expected in the
second quarter and German business sentiment leaped by a record
margin in July. [ID:nLDE66M0RN] and [ID:nLDE66M0JV]

The data cheered investors ahead of the European banking
stress tests results due at noon EDT [1600 GMT]. In an effort
to ease fears over the potential impact of the euro zone debt
crisis on Europe’s banking system, regulators assessed how 91
banks would cope with another downturn. [ID:nLDE66L1XU]

“Earnings are coming in very, very well and economic data,
at least overseas, came in strong. Now all we have to do is get
through the stress tests this afternoon and break through this
1104, 1105 level on the S&P 500, and we could have a nice rally
on our hands,” added Mendelsohn. The S&P closed at 1093.67 on
Thursday.

S&P 500 futures (SPc1: ) gained 4.2 points and were above
fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into
account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures (DJc1: ) advanced
42 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: ) climbed 10 points.

Verizon Communications Inc added 1.9 percent to $27.50
after posting a quarterly loss due to hefty severance charges
and revenue declined even as its wireless venture added more
new monthly-bill paying customers than analysts expected.
[ID:nASA00JW9]

But shares of fellow Dow component McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N: )
slipped 2 percent to $70 after profits topped estimates.
[ID:nN23273356]

Diversified U.S. manufacturer Honeywell International Inc
(HON.N: ) recorded a 4 percent rise in profit and boosted its
forecast, citing recovering demand for industrial products. Its
shares advanced 1.2 percent to $43.18. [ID:nN23131156]

European shares edged up in Friday morning trade, extending
a rally into a fourth day, as corporate earnings were well
received and on cautious optimism over the bank stress tests.
[ID:nLDE66M0G1]

Asian stocks rose Friday as strong profits from economic
bellwethers such as Caterpillar and UPS tempered concerns about
a global slowdown, while the euro steadied ahead of the bank
stress tests.

Stock Market News

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-Microsoft, Ford earns, European data lift futures