Stocks Headed for Small Bounce

But weak earnings at Bank of America keep the tone guarded.
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Stocks held small gains ahead of the bell Monday as bulls regrouped after the previous session's thumping. Oil eased following an overnight spike prompted by a new threat from Iran to step up nuclear research.

Index futures recently showed the

S&P 500

trading a point above fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 2-point gain. The 10-year Treasury bond was down 4/32 in price to yield 4.36%, while the dollar fell against the yen and euro.

Oil fell after a Saudi official downplayed the likelihood of production cuts at an OPEC meeting scheduled for next week. The newly benchmarked March contract was recently down 62 cents to $67.86 a barrel. It was briefly over $69 earlier on a

Financial Times

report highlighting Iran's resolve to press ahead with nuclear research.

Overseas markets were lower after Friday's carnage on Wall Street, in which the

Dow

, S&P 500 and

Nasdaq Composite

each had their worst single-session point decline since 2003. In Europe, the FTSE 100 was down 0.4% to 5653 while Germany's Xetra DAX fell 0.6% to 5319. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei plunged 2.2% to 15,361, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.3% to 15,465.

Disappointing earnings from a handful of blue-chip companies sent the Dow to a 213-point swoon on Friday, erasing its gain for 2006. The profit trend continued Monday morning at

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, which said fourth-quarter earnings fell 2% from a year ago to $3.77 billion, or 93 cents a share. Adjusted earnings of 94 cents a share were a penny short of estimates.

Another report looming Monday is

Ford

(F) - Get Report

, which is expected to say fourth-quarter net income amounted to just 1 cent a share and outline up to 25,000 job cuts.

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

will report its results around midday.

Tech stocks bore the brunt of last week's selling, with Internet leaders

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

both falling by percentages in the double-digits.

On Monday, Bear Stearns upgraded Yahoo! to outperform on valuation, citing the company's preeminent position in the online advertising market and solid fundamentals.