MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Indications: Stock futures up ahead of earnings, Bernanke talk

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By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures rose on Wednesday, buoyed by Apple's stronger-than-expected results, as investors braced for testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and another barrage of earnings reports.

Nasdaq 100 futures gained 11.75 points to 1,851.50 and S&P 500 futures added 4.40 points to 1,084.50.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 31 points to 10,210. The Dow /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,230, +75.53, +0.74%) ended up 0.7% on Tuesday, reversing intraday triple-digit losses.

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Sentiment was buoyed after Apple /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 252.07, +6.49, +2.64%) reported last night a surge in earnings due to booming demand for its iPhone and iPad devices.

Strategists at Deutsche Bank said the spotlight Wednesday will be on Bernanke's monetary policy report to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.

"Expectations that Bernanke may announce policy accommodation measures seemed to help risk assets recover from the softer housing-starts data and Goldman Sachs' earnings and revenue miss," they wrote in a note. Markets will "likely listen carefully to decipher any hints about the possibility of a U.S. double-dip [recession]."

Bernanke will start speaking at 2 p.m. Eastern time, but before that investors will get a number of earnings reports from companies, including Morgan Stanley /quotes/comstock/13*!ms/quotes/nls/ms (MS 25.22, +0.44, +1.78%) , Wells Fargo & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!wfc/quotes/nls/wfc (WFC 25.91, -0.11, -0.42%) and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!fcx/quotes/nls/fcx (FCX 64.32, +3.46, +5.69%) .

Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline /quotes/comstock/13*!gsk/quotes/nls/gsk (GSK 36.37, +0.12, +0.33%) /quotes/comstock/23s!a:gsk (UK:GSK 1,175, +1.50, +0.13%) will also report.

EBay Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!ebay/quotes/nls/ebay (EBAY 20.79, +0.39, +1.91%) and Starbucks Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!sbux/quotes/nls/sbux (SBUX 25.77, +0.28, +1.10%) are among the companies reporting after the U.S. stock market closes.

In Frankfurt, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet is expected to meet with European bank executives. The meeting comes ahead of the release of the results from the European bank stress tests on Friday.

European shares gain

European shares posted convincing gains, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 250.21, +3.86, +1.57%) trading up 1.4%.

U.K. household products company Reckitt Benckiser /quotes/comstock/23s!e:rb. (UK:RB. 3,269, +79.00, +2.48%) agreed to buy SSL International /quotes/comstock/23s!e:ssl (UK:SSL 1,176, +294.00, +33.33%) in a $3.89 billion deal that will add the Durex and Scholl brands to its portfolio. See more on the deal.

In Milan, shares of Fiat SpA /quotes/comstock/23g!f (IT:F 9.59, +0.53, +5.85%) rallied 6% after the car maker reported a return to second-quarter profit and said it may raise its full-year outlook in the next quarter. Read more on Fiat.

In the currency markets, the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2795, -0.0086, -0.6677%) fell 0.3% to $1.2851.

Meanwhile, the Swiss National Bank said that the sharp rise of the Swiss franc, particularly against the euro, resulted in exchange-rate losses of more than 14 billion Swiss francs ($13.3 billion) in the first half of the year.

In electronic trading, September crude-oil futures rose 59 cents to $78.17 a barrel ahead of government data on U.S. petroleum inventories.

Gold futures were little changed at $1,190.80 an ounce.

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

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