MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Friday, January 29, 2010

Indications: Futures extend rise after strong GDP data

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By Simon Kennedy & Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock market futures added to earlier gains on Friday after the government said the economy grew at its fastest pace in six years in the fourth quarter.

The Commerce Department reported gross domestic product climbed 5.7% in the final three months of 2009, even as consumer spending and business investment remained tepid. Read about inventory slowdown.

"Even if the inventory build is taken away the growth figures are impressive at 2.0% and the IT spend is encouraging," said Stephen Pope, chief global equity strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in London.

Up about 50 points ahead of the report, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were lately up 68 points at 10,130, ahead of the last trading session of the month.

S&P 500 futures rose 8.8 points to 1,088 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 17.25 points to 1,787.75

A reading of consumer sentiment will come after the market opens.

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Friday's data will likely be closely watched after disappointing updates on both jobless claims and durable goods orders in the previous session.

Also as markets were closing Thursday the Senate voted to confirm Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term. The vote on final confirmation was 70 to 30.

The dollar climbed against the yen, up 0.9% to 90.64 yen.

Oil futures edged higher, with the March-dated light crude contract adding $1.04 at $74.68 a barrel in electronic trading.

Among the companies in focus, Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 28.54, -0.62, -2.13%) late Thursday posted a 60% rise in fiscal second-quarter profit to $6.66 billion, or 74 cents a share as the software giant benefited from improving personal computer sales and recent release of its flagship Windows 7 operating system. See story on Microsoft's forecast-beating numbers.

Microsoft rose 2.9% in pre-market trading.

Amazon.com /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 128.70, +2.67, +2.12%) added 3% in pre-market action after reporting a 71% profit surge.

Among companies reporting results Friday, Mattel Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!mat/quotes/nls/mat (MAT 19.96, -0.08, -0.40%) topped expectations with an 86% rise in net profit to $328 million, or 89 cents a share, while Honeywell International /quotes/comstock/13*!hon/quotes/nls/hon (HON 38.93, -0.89, -2.24%) said its fourth-quarter earnings slipped to 91 cents a share from 97 cents a share.

Chevron Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!cvx/quotes/nls/cvx (CVX 73.02, -0.22, -0.30%) , reported earnings of $1.53 a share, falling under expectations.

European markets climbed Friday, helped by well-received updates from BMW and Infineon.

Most Asian markets declined as the overnight fall on Wall Street triggered a renewed bout of risk aversion, with Japan's Nikkei 225 dropping 2.1%.

A day-long slide in stocks Thursday, fueled by weakness in the technology sector, left the market poised for its worst monthly decline since last February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended Thursday's session down 115.7 points to 10,120.46.

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.


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