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Monday, April 12, 2010

Indications: Futures get the jitters as earnings season nears

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures edged lower on Monday, giving up some earlier positive ground, with earnings season, a bailout package for Greece and China trade data in focus for investors.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2 points to 10,951, and those for the S&P 500 fell 0.8 points to 1,191.50. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 fell 0.8 points to 1,991.25.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly topped 11,000 on Friday for the first time since September 2008, adding 0.6% for the week. The S&P 500 Index rose 1.4% and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 2.1% last week.

Traders will be looking to see if the Dow Industrials can push again past that 11,000 mark and maintain it this week. The first of the Dow's 30 components to report results, Alcoa /quotes/comstock/13*!aa/quotes/nls/aa (AA 14.39, -0.48, -3.23%) will kick off the unofficial start of the earnings season Monday with a release after the close of trading. See Alcoa preview.

Economic data from China will also garner some attention. The country said it ran its first monthly trade deficit during March in six years, as a surge in imports outpaced exports and commodities prices rose.

Stocks in focus for Monday include Palm /quotes/comstock/15*!palm/quotes/nls/palm (PALM 5.16, +0.51, +10.97%) , which has reportedly put itself up for sale and is seeking bids as soon as this week, reported Bloomberg News, citing people familiar with the situation. Shares of Palm were up nearly 10% in pre open. See full story.

Power producers Mirant Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!mir/quotes/nls/mir (MIR 10.73, +0.40, +3.87%) and RRI Energy /quotes/comstock/13*!rri/quotes/nls/rri (RRI 3.95, +0.20, +5.33%) agreed to an all-stock, tax-free merger to be called GenOn Energy, will have a pro-forma market capitalization of $3.1 billion and 24,700 megawatts of electric-generating capacity. Shares of Mirant were up nearly 15% in preopen trade, while shares of RRI were up 16%. See Power producers to merge

UBS /quotes/comstock/13*!ubs/quotes/nls/ubs (UBS 16.52, +0.31, +1.91%) /quotes/comstock/06p!ubsn (CH:UBSN 18.20, +0.52, +2.94%) rose in Swiss trade after the group said it expects to swing to a first-quarter pretax profit of at least 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.4 billion), against a loss of around 1.5 billion francs a year earlier. See UBS story.

Wal-Mart /quotes/comstock/13*!wmt/quotes/nls/wmt (WMT 55.07, -0.31, -0.56%) could also be active. Home Retail /quotes/comstock/23s!e:home (UK:HOME 294.00, +13.60, +4.85%) was higher in London on a report in The Mail on Sunday that Wal-Mart Stores' held Asda is looking for acquisitions in Britain. See London Markets story.

Stocks in Europe drifted lower, but the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.3584, -0.0041, -0.3009%) , Greek bonds and Greek bank share prices rose in the first chance to react to Sunday's news that euro-zone nations were willing to lend Greece 30 billion euros. Greece has not yet asked for the aid to be delivered amid hopes it will be able to return to the bond market. See story.

Stocks in Warsaw, Poland rose and the zloty were resilient in the aftermath of a plane crash in Russia in which the president and numerous other officials were killed. "We do not view this event as affecting sovereign risk and do not believe it will have an undue impact on financial markets during the next few weeks," said analysts at Nomura, though they said there may be longer-term implications. See Polish stocks, zloty gain

In Asia, stocks were mixed with Tokyo buoyed by yen weakness against the euro, while shares in Thailand fell to a four-week low in early trade after violence erupted between anti-government protestors and the military in Bangkok over the weekend. See Thailand story.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.


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