MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures up on Spain relief; data ahead

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By Steve Goldstein , MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures rose Thursday, as a largely successful Spanish bond auction helped cap worries over the euro while a flurry of U.S. economic data was on tap.

S&P 500 futures rose 4.6 points to 1,114.20 and Nasdaq 100 futures added 7.5 points to 1,913.50. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 41 points.

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U.S. stocks finished largely unmoved Wednesday on a deal when figures showed industrial production grew but FedEx's earnings outlook was below Wall Street estimates and Nokia issued a profit warning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite barely advanced while the S&P 500 finished with fractional losses.

Spain was in the spotlight Thursday after selling 3 billion euros of 10-year bonds, with yields below the 5% level that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have committed to lending to euro-zone countries. A bond auction with yields above 5% wouldn't immediately trigger EU assistance to Spain but would signal concerns over the country's ability to raise financing in international markets.

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The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2373, +0.0074, +0.6017%) rose 0.6% to $1.2380.

Also, U.K. retail sales grew more strongly than anticipated in May.

A busy session for U.S. economic data also awaits, with May consumer prices, first quarter current account and weekly jobless claims data due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, and June Philly Fed index and May leading indications coming at 10 a.m.

Of companies in the spotlight, BP's /quotes/comstock/13*!bp/quotes/nls/bp (BP 31.85, +0.45, +1.43%) London-listed shares rallied Thursday, catching up to the gains in New York when the firm agreed to cancel at least three dividend payments and set aside $20 billion to handle claims. That was seen as positive because BP will be able to gradually fund the independently managed escrow account, quelling worries about cash flows as the oil giant still battles to control the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

After meeting President Obama Wednesday, BP CEO Tony Hayward will appear before a House Energy and Commerce panel, with the executive defending charges the company acted with "carelessness and complacency," in the words of Rep. Henry Waxman.

UBS /quotes/comstock/13*!ubs/quotes/nls/ubs (UBS 13.81, -0.01, -0.07%) will be in the spotlight as the Swiss parliament allowed the bank to hand over names to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, paving the way for the lender to proceed with a previously agreed settlement with U.S. tax authorities.

Kroger /quotes/comstock/13*!kr/quotes/nls/kr (KR 20.08, -0.30, -1.47%) , J.M. Smucker /quotes/comstock/13*!sjm/quotes/nls/sjm (SJM 57.75, +0.21, +0.36%) and Smithfield Foods /quotes/comstock/13*!sfd/quotes/nls/sfd (SFD 17.52, -0.05, -0.28%) highlight a thin, food-focused earnings docket.

Oil futures dropped 12 cents to $77.55 a barrel, while gold futures were stronger by around $5 an ounce.

Asian benchmarks were split, with the Nikkei 225 shedding 0.7% while the Hang Seng and Kospi Composite managed small advances.

The Stoxx Europe 600 advanced 0.6% in late morning trade.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.


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