Futures Flat as Economy Grows 3.2%

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures pointed to a flat open Friday as the market absorbed news that the U.S. economy expanded by a slightly weaker pace than expected in the fourth quarter.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were unchanged, or 3 points above fair value, at 11,944. Futures for the S&P 500 were higher by nearly a point, or more than half of a point above fair value, at 1297, and Nasdaq futures were up by 5 points, or nearly a point below fair value.

The Dow failed to close above the 12,000 level on Thursday, but stocks finished modestly higher as mixed economic reports and lower-than-expected sales from AT&T ( T) and Procter & Gamble ( PG) kept gains in check.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.7% and Japan's Nikkei lost 1.1%. London's FTSE was declining by 0.8% while the DAX in Frankfurt was up by 0.2%.

The U.S. economy grew 3.2% in the fourth quarter, according to the Commerce Department's first gross domestic product reading. The growth was slightly weaker than the expansion of 3.7% that economists had forecast, according to Briefing.com. In the third quarter, GDP grew 2.6%.

The University of Michigan will deliver its final reading on January consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Wall Street is anticipating a reading of 73.2 after a preliminary estimate of 72.7 and December's level of 74.5.
P/>In earnings news, Chevron ( CVX) topped analysts' profit estimates by 23 cents with earnings of $2.64 a share, and said revenue rose 9% to $51.9 billion. The stock was down by 0.9% at $93.90 ahead of Friday's opening bell.

Ford ( F) reported a 79% drop in fourth-quarter net income and said adjusted earnings were 30 cents a share , compared with the profit of 48 cents a share that analysts had forecast. Ford's sales rose 6.6% to $32.5 billion, topping expectations for sales of $30.57 billion. The stock was off by 5.8% at $17.70 in early trading.

Honeywell ( HON) met analysts' fourth-quarter profit estimates with adjusted earnings of 87 cents a share and surpassed sales expectations with revenue of $9 billion. Wall Street had been expecting sales of $8.84 billion. Shares were down 1.1% at $55.30 in early trading.

Microsoft ( MSFT) beat estimates late Thursday . The stock, however, was off by 0.4% at $28.77.

Amazon.com ( AMZN), which also reported late Thursday, saw its stock fall 7.9% to $169.82 during Friday's premarket session. The online marketplace operator fell short of fourth-quarter sales estimates and issued disappointing first-quarter guidance .

In other news, Sara Lee ( SLE) said it will split the company into two separate, publicly traded companies. The North American retail and North American foodservice businesses will retain the Sara Lee name while the other, as-of-yet unnamed company, will consist of Sara Lee's beverage and bakery businesses. Shares were up 0.1% at $17.66.

In commodity markets, the March crude oil contract was trading 3 cents higher at $85.67 a barrel. The most actively traded April gold contract was down by $2.20 to trade at $1,317.60 an ounce.

The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies with the dollar index down by 0.03%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 11/32, lifting the yield to 3.431%.

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--Written by Melinda Peer in New York.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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