MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures stronger after three-day break

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures were stronger Tuesday after a three-day break, with investors returning to a rally in commodity prices, notably gold.

S&P 500 futures rose 4.4 points to 1,083.50 and Nasdaq 100 futures added 8.25 points to 1,791.50. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 31 points.

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U.S. stocks rose last week, with the S&P 500 rising 0.9% to snap a four-period losing run.

Investors are returning to a rally in gold prices -- up some $26 an ounce in electronic trade -- and firmer commodity prices across the board. In euro terms, gold rose to an all-time high of 818 euros an ounce.

The dollar index fell 0.2%. The euro recovered somewhat as European finance ministers demanded fresh budget cuts from Greece if a review of the country's debt-slashing measures doesn't meet approval next month.

The New York Federal Reserve's Empire State Index for February, along with the National Association of Home Builders' housing market index, also for February, will be released Tuesday, as will securities inflows for December.

Earnings also are due from companies including Merck & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!mrk/quotes/nls/mrk (MRK 36.92, 0.00, 0.00%) , Kraft Foods /quotes/comstock/13*!kft/quotes/nls/kft (KFT 29.09, 0.00, 0.00%) and Qwest Communications /quotes/comstock/13*!q (Q 4.43, 0.00, 0.00%) .

Terra Industries /quotes/comstock/13*!tra/quotes/nls/tra (TRA 33.25, 0.00, 0.00%) on Monday accepted a $4.1 billion takeover bid from Norway's Yara. See full story.

Barclays /quotes/comstock/13*!bcs (BCS 16.67, -0.01, -0.06%) reported a surge in profit as the U.K. bank said 2010 has started out more strongly than 2009. See full story.

Virgin Calls On Europe To Be Tougher On BA, AA

Virgin Atlantic CEO Steve Ridgway shares his views on DOT's decision to tentatively approve antitrust immunity to British Airways and American Airlines and what Virgin's game plan is going forward.

AMR /quotes/comstock/13*!amr (AMR 8.71, 0.00, 0.00%) may advance as the American Airlines parent received tentative approval for antitrust immunity on transatlantic flights with partners British Airways and Iberia, with the airline only forced to divest four slots at London's Heathrow Airport.

Rigel Pharmaceuticals /quotes/comstock/15*!rigl (RIGL 9.43, 0.00, 0.00%) may advance after reaching a deal to license its rheumatoid arthritis drug to AstraZeneca /quotes/comstock/13*!azn (AZN 43.94, 0.00, 0.00%) for as much as $1.25 billion before royalties.

The pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 rose 0.6%, and strong results from Westpac helped the Australian S&P/ASX 200 rise 0.5%. China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore were closed for Lunar New Year.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.


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