Here are five things you must know for Thursday, Jan. 24:
1. -- Stock Futures Rise Amid Trade and Growth Anxieties
U.S. stock futures were modestly higher on Thursday, Jan. 24, and global shares were mixed as investors retreated largely to defensive positions amid ongoing concerns over the strength of the world economy, the fate of trade talks between the U.S. and China and the potential for a change in tack from key central banks.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 32 points, futures for the S&P 500 gained 4.50 points, and Nasdaq futures were up 31.50 points.
Donald Trump told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that "I like where we are right now," in terms of trade talks, which are set to resume next week, adding that China "very much wants to make a deal. We'll see what happens. But we're doing very well in our negotiations with China."
The European Central Bank meets later Thursday in Frankfurt, and while no change is anticipated in any of its three key policy rates, investors will be looking for any suggestion that a slowing European economy, which the International Monetary Fund flagged as a key global risk earlier this week, will lead to a change in tack from ECB President Mario Draghi.
Draghi, who is set to retire this fall after eight years at the helm of the ECB, has indicated that he and his colleagues on the Governing Council - the equivalent to the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee - would like to start "normalizing" interest rates by late summer.
Stocks in the U.S. rose Wednesday as gains were fueled by strong earnings reports though investors remained focused on the fate of U.S.-China trade talks and further signals of a slowing global economy.
The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, the PMI Composite Flash for January at 9:45 a.m., and Leading Indicators for December at 10 a.m.
2. -- Ford Swings to a Fourth-Quarter Loss on Weakness Overseas
Ford Motor Co. (F) reported mixed financial results after expressing concerns about its international operations amid an $11 billion restructuring that will result in decreased production overseas.
The automaker reported adjusted earnings of 30 cents a share on automotive segment revenue of $38.7 billion. Analysts expected a profit of 32 cents a share on revenue of $38.66 billion. Total revenue in the quarter was $41.8 billion vs. $41.3 billion a year earlier.
Operating income on an adjusted basis in the fourth quarter was $1.5 billion. The company posted a loss of $116 million in the period, reversing a year-earlier profit of $2.5 billion.
Ford said its profit margin in North America was 7.6% on pretax profit of $2 billion. However, the company's overall profit margin was 3.5% in the quarter due to a $780 million loss reported in Europe, China and South America.
"While 2018 was a challenging year, we put in place key building blocks to build a more resilient and competitive business model that can thrive no matter the economic environment," said Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks.
Ford shares rose 0.4% to $8.37 in premarket trading Thursday.
The stock fell 2% on Wednesday after analysts at JPMorgan cut 2019 earnings and production forecasts due to concerns about international pressures, especially in China.
JPMorgan also lowered its price target estimate to $12 a share from $13.
3. -- Intel, Starbucks and Western Digital Report Earnings Thursday
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but pulled an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a blockbuster cancer drug combination in order to collect more data.
Adjusted earnings for the quarter were 94 cents a share, firmly ahead of estimates of 85 cents and up 38% from the same period last year. Revenue rose 10% to $5.973 billion, just ahead of Wall Street forecasts.
The stock fell 3% in premarket trading.
American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings and guided investors to a stronger performance in 2019 that it said would top its key competitors.
American said adjusted earnings for the three months ended in December were $1.04 a share, 3 cents ahead of estimates and up 11.8% from the same period last year. Revenue was $10.94 billion on a non-GAAP basis, matching forecasts.
American said it sees 2019 earnings in the range of $5.50 to $7.50 a share, well ahead of the Refinitiv consensus of $5.90, adding that "total revenue per available seat mile (will) grow faster than our network competitors."
Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) posted fourth-quarter adjusted earnings and revenue that beat analysts' expectations. Load factor for the quarter declined to 83.5%, below forecasts. The stock jumped 4.6%.
4. -- Texas Instruments' Earnings Top Estimates
Chipmaker Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) topped earnings estimates for the fourth quarter but issued slightly lower-than-expected guidance.
The stock gained 1.6% in premarket trading on Thursday.
Earnings in the quarter were $1.27 a share, higher than Wall Street estimates of $1.23. Revenue was $3.72 billion, missing estimates of $3.74 billion.
"Revenue decreased 1% from the same quarter a year ago as demand for our products continued to slow across most markets," said Rich Templeton, chairman, president and CEO.
Texas Instruments guided for first-quarter revenue of between $3.34 billion to $3.62 billion for a midpoint of $3.48 billion, below Wall Street's expected guidance of $3.59 billion. The company guided for earnings of between $1.03 and $1.21 a share vs. Wall Street's estimate of $1.20.
Earnings from Texas Instruments may have signaled a bottom for the semiconductor sector as investors look to growth in the second half of 2019 to revive performance for beaten-down chip stocks.
"While macro uncertainty adds risk, we see Texas Instruments and the industry under-shipping end demand for the first time since (the first half of 2016): historically a bullish tactical indicator - and secular drivers still very much intact," said Credit Suisse analyst John Pitzer.
5. -- Microsoft's Bing Search Engine Is Blocked in ChinaMicrosoft Corp.'s ( MSFT) Bing search engine has been blocked in China, the Financial Times reported, removing the only major foreign search engine left in China following the exit of Google's search engine in 2010.
The move also makes Microsoft the latest major U.S. tech company to be blocked in China since Facebook Inc.'s (FB) WhatsApp messaging app was blocked in 2017, according to the Financial Times.
"We've confirmed that Bing is currently inaccessible in China and are engaged to determine next step," a Microsoft spokesperson said Thursday. Two sources familiar with the decision confirmed to the Financial Times that Bing was blocked.
One of the sources said that China Unicom, one of China's major state-owned telecom companies, had received an order from the government to block Bing for "illegal content," a catch-all explanation for censorship, the Financial Times reported.