- Pre-Market Indications

Friday, April 23, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures retain slight edge after data

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By Barbara Kollmeyer & Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures retained only slight gains ahead of the Wall Street open on Friday, with the Commerce Department reported an unexpected drop in orders for U.S.-made durable goods in March.

Greece was also in focus after the prime minister made a formal request to tap international aid for the debt-strapped country.

Up more than 20 points before the early U.S. data, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were lately up 6 points at 11,074, while those for the S&P 500 rose 2.3 points to 1,204.0. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 gained 6 points to 2,042.5.

While the early data had demand for U.S. durable goods falling for the first time in four months, orders for the prior month were revised higher.

Prime Minister George Papandreou formally asked to tap a 45 billion euro ($59.9 billion) European Union-International Monetary Fund aid package after soaring borrowing costs were seen as making it nearly impossible for the country to meet its funding needs on the open market.

The news helped spur a relief rally for the euro, and Europe stocks were clawing back ground after sliding on Thursday when Greece's debt rating was cut by Moody's. Read more on Greece request for aid

"It had been rumored that they were going to look for a rescheduling of their debt which would have been a more significant event as that's default," said Bernard McAlinden, strategist at NCB Stockbrokers.


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• MarketWatch Topics: Greece • Asia Markets | Europe Markets | LatAm Markets • Canadian Markets | Israel Stocks | London • U.S.: Market Snapshot | After Hours

Tools• Latin American/Canadian indexes • European indexes | Asian indexes

More on the Markets • Bond Report | Oil News | Earnings Watch • Currencies | U.S. Economic Calendar

Earnings • Ericsson posts 26% profit drop but margins rise • Volvo returns to profit, shares rally 11% • Adidas hits 22-month high after lifting outlook

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The Group of 20 finance ministers will meet in Washington, D.C. this weekend, with the focus seen on Greece and financial regulation.

U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday, led by stocks of home builders and technology stocks. Wall Street has been on a run since early February and as of Tuesday's close, the S&P 500 index is up more than 78% from its March low and 8% ahead so far this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major indexes sported minor gains.

"For risk to hold up so well into the U.S. close perhaps suggests that equity investors believe this is a 1-3 week stand off which will eventually end well," said Jim Reid, strategist for Deutsche Bank of the sovereign debt crisis. "Indeed those of a bullish persuasion may actually say that without Greece we would be a lot higher. Whatever your beliefs we can't help thinking that these are a pivotal few weeks for markets."

Of the 151 S&P 500 components that have reported first-quarter earnings, 80% have beat estimates, according to FactSet Research.

Reporting ahead of the bell, Xerox /quotes/comstock/13*!xrx/quotes/nls/xrx (XRX 10.45, -0.15, -1.42%) reported a loss of 4 cents a share and adjusted earnings per share of 18 cents. A survey of analysts by FactSet Research was calling for a profit of 15 cents.

Microsoft /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 31.39, +0.06, +0.19%) shares fell in premarket trade after posting late Thursday a 35% gain in fiscal third-quarter profit, boosted by contributions from the latest version of its flagship Windows operating system. There were worries over a lower than expected figure on total deferred revenue. See Microsoft results

Also in focus will be /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 150.09, +3.66, +2.50%) , down on a lower-than-expected forecast for operating income in the second quarter. See Amazon results

Shares of Travelers /quotes/comstock/13*!trv/quotes/nls/trv (TRV 53.79, +0.99, +1.88%) could see pressure after the insurer reported a 2% fall in net profit and said catastrophe losses jumped in the quarter to 61 cents a share from 9 cents a share.

Ericsson /quotes/comstock/15*!eric/quotes/nls/eric (ERIC 11.26, +0.01, +0.09%) shares were up over 6% in pre-open trade and also higher in Europe. The group reported a 26% profit drop but margins improved. See Ericsson results

Later economic data on Friday includes new-home sales for March at 10 a.m. Also Friday, credit ratings agencies will face a Senate hearing on the role they played in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

Asian stock markets traded lower, with Greece's fiscal troubles weighing on Japanese exporters, but Korean and Taiwan liquid crystal display makers higher.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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