Stock futures edge higher with earnings in focus

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures rose on Wednesday, adding to the benchmark S&P 500's rally of more than 1 percent a day earlier, buoyed by solid corporate earnings and an optimistic outlook from Disney.

Walt Disney Co beat estimates for quarterly adjusted earnings and said it expected the next few quarters to be better due to a stronger lineup of movies and rising attendance at its theme parks. Shares advanced 3.2 percent to $56.03 in light premarket trading.

With a lack of economic catalysts on Wednesday, investor focus has turned to an earnings season that has been better than anticipated.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning, of the 278 companies in the S&P 500 <.spx> that have reported earnings, 68.7 percent have beat analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.

In another positive sign, sixty-six percent of companies have topped revenue forecasts. Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are now expected to rise 4.5 percent, according to the data, above the 1.9 percent forecast at the start of earnings season.

S&P 500 futures rose 1.6 points and were slightly above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 42 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.75 points.

The benchmark S&P index rose 1.04 percent Tuesday, its biggest percentage gain since a 2.5-percent advance on January 2, when legislators sidestepped a "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax hikes that could have hurt a fragile U.S. economic recovery.

Visa , the world's largest credit and debit card network, is expected to report earnings per share of $1.79 for its first quarter, up from $1.49 a year earlier. Smaller rival MasterCard recently reported better-than-expected results but said its revenue growth could slow in the first half of the year due to economic uncertainty.

Zynga Inc jumped 6.9 percent to $2.93 in premarket trading after the online gaming company reported an unexpected fourth-quarter profit, following steep cost cuts and shifting forward deferred revenue.

European stocks rose, extending the previous session's recovery with an upbeat outlook from ArcelorMittal reassuring investors. <.eu/>

Asian shares rose, with Japanese equities climbing to their highest since October 2008 on hopes of central bank monetary policy easing and optimism about the prospects for a global economic recovery.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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