MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures inch up ahead of data, earnings

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock market futures were marginally higher on Wednesday, after a rousing prior session and ahead of some key economic data and more earnings.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 points to 10,234, while those for the S&P 500 gained 1.3 points to 1,098.50. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 rose 2.25 points to 1,771.

After a brief stumble, stocks marched higher Tuesday thanks to strong housing data, putting the market on its best two-day winning streak in nearly three months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 111.32 points higher, or 1.1%, at 10,296.85. The Nasdaq rose 0.9%, while the S&P 500 rose 1.3%, helped by gains in every sector.

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Economic data on tap includes the ADP national employment report, due at 8:15 a.m., which precedes Friday's more closely followed nonfarm payroll data from the government.

"In January, both numbers showed falls of around 80,000, much weaker than expected and a decline in ADP of around 30,000 is expected today, whereas Friday's nonfarm payroll data is due to post a small rise. The real employment number is the nonfarm payroll data but ADP can move the markets so watch out," said Simon Denham, managing director of Capital Spreads.

Also due, the ISM service sector index for January will be released at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Ahead of the market open quarterly results are due from Pfizer /quotes/comstock/13*!pfe/quotes/nls/pfe (PFE 19.24, +0.45, +2.39%) , Time Warner /quotes/comstock/13*!twx/quotes/nls/twx (TWX 28.51, +0.46, +1.64%) , AOL /quotes/comstock/13*!aol/quotes/nls/aol (AOL 24.65, +0.72, +3.01%) and Black & Decker /quotes/comstock/13*!bdk/quotes/nls/bdk (BDK 68.75, +2.64, +3.99%) among others.

News Corp /quotes/comstock/15*!nws/quotes/nls/nws (NWS 15.04, +0.33, +2.24%) may be active after it swung to a quarterly profit of $284 million on strong performance in film and cable TV businesses. News Corp. owns The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires and MarketWatch, the publisher of this report. See News Corp. swings to profit on cable, film returns

European shares edged higher, ahead of a decision on Greece's stability program, with miners and banks offsetting earnings-related weakness from Roche Holding and Electrolux. See Europe Markets.

In the currency markets, the euro was up 0.3% against the dollar at $1.4002 ahead of the decision from the European Union on Greece's plan.

"It appears that the E.U. is ready to approve Greece's deficit reduction plan which should relieve some of the near-term pressure, although the concern about other peripheral nations is likely to persist," said Ian Williams, strategist at Altium Securities.

Asian markets shot higher Wednesday as resource and tech stocks climbed on buoyant commodity prices and a strong close on Wall Street.

Crude oil futures were up 62 cents to $77.85 a barrel, while gold was up $2 to $1,120.10 an ounce.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.


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