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Futures murky as traders watch earnings, economy

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 | 8:57 AM ET

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a mixed open on Monday, as markets weighed better-than-expected third-quarter earnings against budget uncertainty.

Dow and S&P 500 futures were down, while Nasdaq futures moved fractionally higher.

In earnings, news, McDonald's posted profit just ahead of Wall Street expectations but revenue was light, sending shares lower.

Hasbro rallied after the toy company posted a higher-than-expected profit as robust demand overseas helped offset domestic weakness.

Discover Financial, Netflix and Texas Instruments are slated to post earnings after the closing bell.

According to Deutsche Bank, of the 80 S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far, 70 percent have topped analysts' earnings expectations, but only 53 percent have beaten sales forecasts.

(Read more: What this week's earnings will say about consumers)

Over the weekend, JPMorgan reached a tentative $13 billion deal with the U.S. government over probes over the financial giant's handling of mortgage-backed securities that plummeted in value during the housing crash of the late 2000s.

On the economic front, existing home sales for September will be reported at 10 am ET. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 5.30 million units at an annual rate versus 5.48 million in August.

Investors will be focused on economic reports that were delayed due to the 16-day government shutdown. September non-farm payrolls report will be released on Tuesday.

"The principal focus will be September's labor market report tomorrow, which is expected to show that ahead-of-the-shutdown, non-farm payrolls were up 180,000, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at the more than three-and-half-year low of 7.3 percent," Emily Nicol, an economist at Daiwa Capital, said in a note.

(Read more: Buckle up: Here come the economic data)

Meanwhile, Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans said it will be "tough" for the central bank to have sufficient confidence in the strength of the U.S. recovery by its meeting in December to start scaling back the bond-buying program because the government shutdown has left the economic picture unclear.

"October is a tough one. December? I think we need a couple of good labor reports and evidence of increasing growth, GDP growth. It is probably going to take a few months to sort that one out," Evans told CNBC.

(Read more: Fed could up QE to$1 trillion a month: Marc Faber)

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