Investing.com -- U.S. stock futures traded higher Friday, with sentiment boosted by a generally positive earnings season to date ahead of next week’s crucial Federal Reserve meeting.
The benchmark indices on Wall Street closed in a mixed fashion Thursday, with the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining over 160 points, or 0.5%. This was its ninth straight positive close and longest streak of increases since 2017, and its highest close since March 2022.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite , however, fell almost 300 points, or 2.1%, its largest one-day decline in over four months, weighed by poorly received results from streaming giant Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) and EV manufacturer Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ).
Positive earnings help sentiment
The earnings season has been largely beneficial so far, with 73% of the S&P 500 companies that have already reported exceeding analysts’ expectations, according to FactSet data.
Banks have dominated the first week, benefiting from rising interest rates, although the major lenders have had to cope with a slump in deal making.
Regional lenders like Comerica (NYSE: CMA ) and Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE: RF ) end the week, along with credit card giant American Express (NYSE: AXP ), but attention has largely switched to next week and numbers from some of the country's biggest tech players, including traditional powerhouses like Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ), Google-owner Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL ), and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ).
Microsoft/Activision deal now more likely
The potential $69B tie-up of Microsoft and video game maker Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI ) now looks more likely to proceed after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission suspended its request for an in-house judge to block the deal.
Regulators in both the U.S. and Britain have expressed worries over how the merger may impact competition, but their opposition has been showing signs of softening.
Microsoft and Activision have now extended the deadline to wrap up the transaction to Oct. 18.
Fed meeting looms large
Away from the corporate sector, next week sees a key policy decision from the Fed , with the U.S. central bank widely expected to raise borrowing costs by another 25 basis points.
Whether officials will then decide to back away from its long-standing tightening cycle or signal more hikes ahead is likely to guide sentiment in the weeks ahead.
Oil rises on Chinese stimulus hopes
Crude prices rose Friday, closing a volatile week with gains on rising hopes that China, the world’s largest crude importer, will roll out more stimulus measures to support its stuttering economic recovery.
The country revealed disappointing second-quarter growth numbers earlier this week, prompting Beijing to unveil new measures on Friday aimed at promoting local spending, and raising expectations of more widespread support.
(Oliver Gray contributed to this item.)
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