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Futures Pare Gains on Jobs Letdown

A string of positive earnings reports gave a lift to Wall Street this morning as Ford Motor joined some key Dow components in beating expectations.

Ford posted its first annual net gain since 2005 and quarterly earnings of 25 cents a share, sending its shares up 2.7 percent in premarket trading.

The company was joined on the earnings parade by Procter & Gamble, which beat expectations and saw its shares rise 0.5 percent, and Nokia, which surged about 12 percent premarket.

The only significant disappointment for the morning came from AT&T, which met expectations but saw a mixed bag on the revenue front, sending shares 0.5 percent lower but well off the bottom for the morning.

But futurer came under some pressure from a disappointing jobs report. The Labor Department said jobless claims fell to 470,000, a decrease of 8,000but well short of what analysts estimated. A separate report showed a 0.3 percent rise in demand for long-lasting goods.

The rise in futures follows Wednesday's late turnaround that pushed the major averages into positive territory for the day.

But they're still lower by about 1.5 percent to 2 percent for January with two trading days left in the month.

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address was well received by European markets, which were broadly higher in morning trading.

In addition to sorting out the implications of the State of the Union, investors once again have plenty of earnings and economic numbers to consider this morning.

At 8:30 am New York time, there will be the Labor Department's weekly report on initial jobless claims and the monthly government report on durable goods orders. Economists think jobless claims will drop to 450,000 from last week's reading of 482,000, while durable goods orders are seen rising 2 percent for December after increasing 0.2 percent in November.

Among the other earnings reports this morning: Becton Dickinson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cardinal Health, Colgate-Palmolive, Dominion, Eastman Kodak, Estee Lauder, Goodrich, Eli Lillly, Lockheed Martin, Altria, and Motorola.

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Qualcomm will be a stock to watch, after it dropped in after-hours trading on a disappointing earnings outlook issued after the bell. Netflix shares rose after-hours, however, on an upbeat quarterly report.

Toyota will also be a stock to watch, falling another 4 percent in overseas trading after expanding an October recall of vehicles with a floor mat problem that caused some accelerator pedals to stick. This is separate from the most recent recall involving a different accelerator pedal issue.

RealtyTrac reports that although foreclosure activity centered around the Sun Belt states in 2009, it's now spreading to previously untouched areas.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.