MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Indications: Futures cling to gains after trade gap widens

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By Steve Goldstein & Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures trimmed an early rise Wednesday as markets digested the widening U.S. trade deficit and awaited news on a Greece rescue plan and testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Stock futures relapsed slightly after the Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit widened in December to $40.2 billion form $36.4 billion the month before.

Up nearly 20 points before the early data, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were lately up 8 points at 10,012. S&P 500 futures rose fractionally to 1,066.3 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up nearly 2 points at 1,753.5.

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U.S. stocks climbed Tuesday as indications that Germany would lead a rescue of debt-stricken Greece assuaged investors across the globe. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 150 points, or 1.5%, and other leading indexes rose by over 1% as well.

A meeting between the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, and law makers, ended on Wednesday without any concrete package of Greek aid announced. However, expectations are that a package may be announced on Thursday during a meeting of European leaders.

European equities climbed on Wednesday -- markets there shut before the German news broke on Tuesday -- while the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.37, -0.01, -0.55%) was steady after its rally the prior day. See related story.

Also in the spotlight Wednesday will be written testimony from Bernanke -- he won't be delivering it in person due to the snow that's hit Washington, D.C. -- which will delve into when the central bank will exit its ultra-low interest-rate policy.

"Bernanke is likely to go into a lot of gory details of all the ways they can exit, but he's going to keep reiterating they'll do what the economy needs [the bank] to do," said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock.

The Bank of England, a central bank which has adopted many of the same strategies as the Fed, forecast inflation in the U.K. will come back below its 2% target.

Of companies in the spotlight, Walt Disney Co.'s /quotes/comstock/13*!dis/quotes/nls/dis (DIS 29.34, -0.50, -1.68%) fiscal first-quarter earnings were about flat with those of the year-earlier period, the company said after markets closed on Tuesday, as gains by its television networks and film and TV studios were offset by declines at its theme-park and consumer units. See Disney story.

Disney shares were off 2.4% in premarket action.

Baidu.com /quotes/comstock/15*!bidu/quotes/nls/bidu (BIDU 472.72, +37.71, +8.67%) climbed 8.8% after the Chinese search engine reported stronger-than-forecast earnings on a 40% jump in revenue.

ArcelorMittal /quotes/comstock/13*!mt/quotes/nls/mt (MT 36.02, -3.44, -8.72%) dropped 5.3% as the world's largest steel maker offered up first-quarter guidance below market expectations. See ArcelorMittal story.

Commodity futures markets were little changed. Weekly energy inventories data originally scheduled for Wednesday has been pushed back to Friday.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.


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