RTTNews - Following four straight days of gains, stocks look to open on a mixed note on Friday as traders react to a deluge of earnings news while also digesting a surprising report from the housing sector. The major averages are on opposite sides of the unchanged mark, with the Dow futures sliding by 51 points.

The day's lone economic report came from the U.S. Commerce Department, which revealed that housing starts rose 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 582,000 units in June from a revised pace of 562,000 units in the previous month.

Economists were expecting the figure to remain relatively stable with the pace of 532,000 units that was originally reported for May.

The report also showed that building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, climbed 8.7 percent to an annual pace of 563,000 from the revised May rate of 518,000.

Traders are also delving into a slew of earnings results this morning, with IBM Corp. (IBM) reporting second-quarter net income of $2.32 per share, compared to $1.97 per share in the same quarter last year. The firm beat out Wall Street analyst forecasts of $2.02 per share, while raising its full-year 2009 income guidance.

Google Inc. (GOOG) posted adjusted second quarter net income of $5.36 per share, compared to $4.63 per share in the year-ago period. The results beat out analyst estimates of $5.09 per share.

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) announced a second-quarter net income $0.33 per share compared to $0.72 in the year ago quarter. The report also edged out analyst forecasts of $0.28 per share for the quarter.

Citigroup Inc. (C) reported that its second-quarter net income was $0.49 per share, compared to a loss of $0.55 in the same period last year. The results included an $11.1 billion pre-tax ($6.7 billion after-tax) gain associated with the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney joint venture transaction, which closed on June 1, 2009. The earnings report bested analyst forecasts of $0.37 per share.

General Electric Co. (GE) saw second-quarter net earnings of $0.24 per share, compared to $0.51 for the same period last year. The results inched past Wall Street forecasts of $0.23 per share.

Mattel Inc. (MAT) also surpassed Wall Street expectations, which looked for a breakeven figure per share. Mattel revealed a second-quarter net income of $0.06 per share, compared to net income of $0.03 per share in the same quarter of last year.

After a lackluster start to the session, stocks showed signs of life in afternoon trading on Thursday, ending the day sharply higher. The Dow closed up by 96 points at 8,712, the Nasdaq climbed by 22.13 points to 1,885 and the S&P 500 rose by 8 points to 941.

Crude oil futures are slipping in early commodities trading, falling by $0.52 to $61.50 a barrel after rising by $0.48 to $62.02 per barrel in the previous session. The price of gold is also falling, slipping by $2.00 to $933.40 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is advancing against the major European currencies, rising to $1.4079 against the euro while climbing to $1.6289 versus the pound. Against the yen, the buck is also moving higher, now valued at 93.90 yen.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed higher on Friday, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbing by 2.4 percent while Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index posted a much more modest gain of 0.6 percent.

The major European markets are on the upside by modest margins, with the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index advancing by 0.4 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is also on the rise, moving up by 0.5 percent.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com