Futures flat as China data gloom overshadows upbeat earnings

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By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday, as better-than-expected earnings reports were overshadowed by fresh jitters about the global economy after economic data from China revealed growth slowed to its weakest pace in almost 30 years.

The data showed growth in the world’s second-largest economy marked a further loss of momentum in the third quarter, casting gloom over global equities.

Helping to prop up markets was a 1.6% premarket rise in shares of Coca-Cola Co (N:) after the company beat analysts’ expectations for quarterly sales.

Oilfield services provider Schlumberger NV (N:) also gained 1.8% following a quarterly profit beat.

The reporting season kicked off on a strong note this week, with solid results from major banks, healthcare giants and streaming pioneer Netflix Inc (O:). The S&P 500 () and indexes were on pace to cap their second week in gains.

But the gains could be short-lived as analysts see third-quarter S&P 500 earnings falling by 2.9%, according to Refinitiv data, marking the first contraction since mid-2016.

Wall Street investors took comfort in the string of corporate earnings beats and encouraging geopolitical developments on Thursday, which soothed some concerns about a downturn in the U.S. economy.

A 15-month long trade war between Washington and Beijing and slowing domestic manufacturing growth have also weighed on buyers’ sentiment.

At 7:15 a.m. ET, were up 5 points, or 0.02%. S&P 500 e-minis rose 1.75 points, or 0.06% and were down 1.75 points, or 0.02%.

Among other stocks, shares of online broker E*Trade Financial Corp (O:) rose 3% after it posted better than expected quarterly profit and revenue.

Caterpillar Inc (N:) dropped 1% after Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) downgraded the industrial giant’s shares to “equal-weight” citing growing risks from weakening demand heading into 2020.

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