- Pre-Market Indications

Monday, May 3, 2010

Indications: Stock futures up with focus on deals, data, Greece

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures were higher on Monday, with investors set to shake off the big sell-off in the prior session as they focused on a well-flagged merger between Continental and United Airlines, anticipation of strong economic data and the Greek aid package.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 39 points to 10,977, while those for the Nasdaq 100 rose 4 points to 2,003. Futures for the S&P 500 rose 2.6 points to 1,186.

Worries in the financial sector triggered a sharp fall in stocks on Friday, though the month of April was positive.

The S&P 500 slid 1.7% to 1,187, leaving it down 2.5% for the week, but it gained 1.5% on the month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, fell 1.42% to 11,009 on Friday, losing 1.8% on the week but gaining 1.4% on the month.


Global Dow

• 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

Strategy and Outlook • Southern Europe stocks swim against tide • The euro zone's undoing is now plausible • Latin American inflation not the threat it was • The Emerging Markets Report

Earnings • Barclays profit climbs 29% as provisions fall • Total's profit up 14% on higher oil prices, output • WPP forecasts better first-half profit

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The Nasdaq Composite fell 2% to 2,461 on Friday, falling 2.7%, but gaining 2.6% for the month.

"The Greek deal sealed the fear of a total collapse in the sovereign-debt market, which prior had a spillover effect in Europe on equities; to a lesser extent also in the U.S.," said Christian Tegllund Blaabjerg, chief equity strategist at Saxo Bank.

"From here we expected a rebound in equities and we got one. This will also pull U.S. equities higher today," he said, adding that a strong earnings season has been a solid indicator of the underlying recovery.

Another key factor for markets, though, he said, is the U.S. consumer. First-quarter GDP data released Friday was slightly weaker than expected on Friday, but personal consumption data rose 3.6% versus consensus 3.3%.

"In an hour or so a whole string of U.S. consumer related figures is released and we expect very strong numbers here. Actually a bit better than market expectation and that is what is getting priced in currently," said the strategist.

March personal-income data are due out at 8:30 a.m., March construction spending at 10 a.m. and the ISM manufacturing index for April, also due at 10 a.m. All times are Eastern. The highlight of the week will be Friday's April nonfarm payroll number.

On the deal front, the boards of Continental Airlines /quotes/comstock/13*!cal/quotes/nls/cal (CAL 22.35, -0.35, -1.54%) and United Airlines parent UAL Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!uaua/quotes/nls/uaua (UAUA 21.60, +0.13, +0.59%) confirmed an all-stock tie-up to form the world's biggest air carrier. Continental was up 4.8% in pre-open, and UAL was up 1.2% in Frankfurt. See more on the deal

The mining sector was also busy with deal news. Europe's third-largest steel producer Norsk Hydro on Sunday said it agreed to buy key mining assets from Brazil's Vale SA /quotes/comstock/13*!vale/quotes/nls/vale (VALE 30.62, -0.80, -2.55%) , in a $4.9 billion cash and stock deal. See more on the deal

Meanwhile, Glencore International is reportedly working on a proposal for Xstrata PLC /quotes/comstock/23s!a:xta (UK:XTA 1,087, 0.00, 0.00%) , to create a mining and commodity trading group, according to media reports.

Shares of Goldman Sachs /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 145.20, -15.04, -9.39%) were up 1.8% in pre open. Over the weekend, at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting, Warren Buffett launched a strong defense of Berkshire's $5 billion investment in the investment bank and its embattled chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein.

Shares of Pozen /quotes/comstock/15*!pozn/quotes/nls/pozn (POZN 10.85, -1.23, -10.18%) rose nearly 16% in pre-open. The company and AstraZeneca /quotes/comstock/13*!azn/quotes/nls/azn (AZN 44.23, -0.11, -0.25%) reportedly won approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell arthritis medicine Vimovo, Bloomberg News said.

Earnings for Monday include Anadarko Petroleum /quotes/comstock/13*!apc/quotes/nls/apc (APC 62.16, -5.17, -7.68%) , Clorox /quotes/comstock/13*!clx/quotes/nls/clx (CLX 64.70, -0.05, -0.08%) and PSEG /quotes/comstock/13*!peg/quotes/nls/peg (PEG 32.13, +0.29, +0.91%) before the opening bell.

European markets posted modest losses, as the agreement of a $146-billion bailout package for Greece from euro-zone members and the International Monetary Fund failed to quiet fears that the crisis could spread to other nations within the euro zone. There are also concerns about obstacles remaining in other regions for releasing such funds.

The European Central Bank also said on Monday it would suspend the minimum credit-rating threshold for all Greek government debt. The threshold will no longer be a requirement for collateral eligibility for the euro system's credit operations.

Economic data showed euro-zone manufacturing output in April expanded at its fastest clip in nearly 10 years, driven by a record performance in Germany and Austria, though Greece again saw a contraction, a survey showed Monday,

U.K. markets were closed for a holiday on Monday, ahead of a hotly contested general election on Thursday.

The euro was trading down 0.3% against the dollar at $1.3234. Gold was down $1.70 to $1,178.90 an ounce.

Asia stocks were lower Monday, weighed by Wall Street's losses Friday, while Australian miners were hit by plans for a new tax on the resources industry.

Australian nationwide house prices jumped a record 20% in value during the past 12 months, igniting worries of an emerging asset price bubble, and making an interest-rate hike at Tuesday's Reserve Bank policy meeting a near certainly.

Property and bank stocks fell in Hong Kong after China announced over the weekend that it is ordering banks to raise the amount of money they hold in reserves for the third time this year.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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