MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Monday, March 29, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures rise on economic optimism

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By Steve Goldstein & Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures rose Monday on optimism surrounding the global economy ahead of this week's release of nonfarm payrolls figures.

S&P 500 futures rose 4.2 points to 1,167.7 and Nasdaq 100 futures added 7 points to 1,958.75. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 28 points to 10,826.

Stock futures lightly trimmed their advance the government reported personal income held unchanged in February, while spending rose 0.3%.

"The mix of data aren't too surprising and shouldn't impact the markets much," said analysts at Action Economics.

Though stocks were broadly flat on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% last week, the fourth week in a row the blue-chip index has gained and the sixth rise out of the last seven weeks.

As the first quarter winds down, metals futures rose across the board on Monday, with copper futures particularly strong, and both the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.3444, -0.0026, -0.1930%) and the British pound /quotes/comstock/21o!x:sgbpusd (CUR_GBPUSD 1.4964, +0.0002, +0.0134%) up about 0.5% against the U.S. dollar.

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The Shanghai Composite climbed 2.1%, and Russian stocks held up well given the attack that killed dozens in Moscow, with the Russia RTS index climbing 1.4%. See Russia story.

The FTSE 100 edged up 0.2% in London.

Strategists at Societe Generale, in a note on asset allocation, advised "anything but cash" as global growth reaches 4% as the broker continues to prefer commodities and equities over government bonds. Employment creation and the end of the dollar crisis should support cheap equities in the U.S. and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite /quotes/comstock/10y!i:comp (COMP 2,395, -2.28, -0.10%) in particular, they said.

Greece, the country in Western Europe hardest hit over sovereign debt concerns, started marketing 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) of seven-year debt. See story.

Standard & Poor's kept a negative view on the U.K.'s Triple-A credit rating. See story.

Of companies in the spotlight, Ford Motor Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!f/quotes/nls/f (F 13.86, +0.06, +0.43%) reached a deal over the weekend to sell Volvo Car to China's Zhejiang Geely for $1.8 billion. See Ford story.

Vodafone Group /quotes/comstock/15*!vod/quotes/nls/vod (VOD 21.95, -0.01, -0.05%) rose in London after The Sunday Telegraph said merger talks with Verizon Communications /quotes/comstock/13*!vz/quotes/nls/vz (VZ 30.37, +0.06, +0.20%) were discussed as one way to resolve a long-standing dispute over their jointly held mobile arm, Verizon Wireless, which isn't making dividend payments. See Verizon story.

Rio Tinto /quotes/comstock/13*!rtp/quotes/nls/rtp (RTP 231.11, +4.95, +2.19%) said it's terminating the employment of four who were convicted in Shanghai of accepting bribes and that it will continue to build its relationship with China. See Rio Tinto story.

Allied Irish Banks /quotes/comstock/13*!aib/quotes/nls/aib (AIB 4.45, -0.11, -2.41%) and the Bank of Ireland /quotes/comstock/13*!ire/quotes/nls/ire (IRE 7.44, -0.05, -0.67%) slumped in Dublin action on reports the government will increase their stakes in the lenders as well as the size of the discount the lenders will have to accept for offloading risky assets. See Ireland story.

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


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