MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Indications: Stock futures rally on strong European data

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By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures rallied Thursday, shedding the previous session's gloom, as better-than-expected European industrial-orders data reignited hopes of a swift economic recovery.

S&P 500 futures added 13.10 points to 1,077 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 21 points to 1,836.50. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 108 points to 10,166.

The Dow /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,121, -109.43, -1.07%) had dropped 109.43 points, or 1.1%, Wednesday, with all but four of its 30 components losing ground.

The losses followed Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who described the economic outlook as "unusually uncertain."

The markets' mood reversed Thursday after data showed that industrial orders in the euro zone rose 3.8% in May from the previous month.

PM Report: Bernanke Testimony Spooks Markets

In congressional testimony, Ben Bernanke signaled that no moves were imminent to bolster the recovery despite a "somewhat weaker outlook" for the economy. Michael Casey, Dennis Berman and David Wessel discuss. Also, Kelli Grant of SmartMoney.com discusses a slew of new Web sites that help you borrow what you need in today's tough economic times.

Compared to the same month last year, sales surged 22.7%, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat reported Thursday. The results exceeded economists' forecasts for flat monthly orders and a 20% year-on-year rise.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 252.83, +3.59, +1.44%) rose 1.4% in the wake of the data.

"That is the trigger that started this rally. There was a huge surprise to the upside," said Christian Tegllund Blaabjerg, chief equity strategist at Saxo Bank.

"We're at this uptrend year-on-year and that is very positive. There is a time lag when unemployment starts to turn positive again and that's usually led by new industrial orders," Blaabjerg said.

Traders will get a string of U.S. data this morning, starting with jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time and followed by existing-home sales and leading economic indicators at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Chairman Bernanke's second day of testimony will begin at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

On the earnings front, Caterpillar Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!cat/quotes/nls/cat (CAT 66.87, +0.44, +0.66%) , United Parcel Service Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!ups (UPS 60.01, -0.87, -1.43%) , Bristol Meyers Squibb Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!bmy (BMY 24.75, -0.27, -1.08%) and Eli Lilly and Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!lly/quotes/nls/lly (LLY 34.95, -0.31, -0.88%) are among the many companies scheduled to release results.

In the technology sector, Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 25.12, -0.36, -1.41%) and Amazon.com Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn (AMZN 117.43, -2.67, -2.22%) will report results after the market closes.

Oil major ConocoPhillips /quotes/comstock/13*!cop/quotes/nls/cop (COP 52.12, -0.54, -1.03%) said it will take a $1.1 billion non-cash asset impairment charge in its second-quarter results after cancelling plans to upgrade its Wilhelmshaven refinery in Germany.

In Europe, Swiss bank Credit Suisse Group /quotes/comstock/13*!cs (CS 41.99, +0.23, +0.55%) /quotes/comstock/06p!csgn-otc (CH:CSGN 43.18, -1.07, -2.42%) reported a small, but unexpected rise in second-quarter profit. Still, shares fell 2.8%.

Shares of power and automation firm ABB Ltd. /quotes/comstock/13*!abb (ABB 18.45, +0.06, +0.33%) /quotes/comstock/06p!abbn-otc (CH:ABBN 20.31, +0.66, +3.36%) posted an 8% decline in second-quarter profit, but orders rose 5% to $7.67 billion. Read more on Swiss stocks.

Finland's Nokia Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!nok/quotes/nls/nok (NOK 8.82, -0.19, -2.11%) , the world's largest maker of mobile phones, will report results shortly.

In the currency markets, the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2863, +0.0111, +0.8705%) rose 0.5% to $1.2821.

September oil futures gained 36 cents to $76.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while gold futures fell.

Polya Lesova is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in Frankfurt.

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