MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Indications: Stock futures gain as Target posts profit

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By Simon Kennedy and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized Target's revenue compared to Wall Street estimates. It has been corrected.

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures rose modestly Wednesday as retail giant Target Corp. matched forecasts for earnings growth.

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Erasing earlier losses, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 30 points to 10,388. S&P 500 futures gained 3.7 points to 1,092.80, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.50 points to 1,844.

Target /quotes/comstock/13*!tgt/quotes/nls/tgt (TGT 51.89, +1.21, +2.39%) reported second-quarter profits of 92 cents a share, in line with analysts surveyed by FactSet, but revenue of $15.53 billion came in slightly short of forecasts for $15.58 billion.

Its results come on the heels of those from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!wmt/quotes/nls/wmt (WMT 50.95, -0.07, -0.14%) and Home Depot Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!hd/quotes/nls/hd (HD 28.82, +0.51, +1.81%) , both of which supported Tuesday's stock rally with upbeat reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,398, -7.26, -0.07%) gained more than 100 points in Tuesday's session.

Retailers' results are being monitored for signs of life among consumers, especially given the approach of the holiday shopping season.

Wednesday's trade could well be subdued, given that Tuesday's rally marked the first such display of enthusiasm for equities in two weeks.

BHP Billiton's /quotes/comstock/13*!bhp/quotes/nls/bhp (BHP 68.17, -2.04, -2.91%) $38.5 billion takeover offer for fertilizer maker Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan /quotes/comstock/13*!pot/quotes/nls/pot (POT 147.25, +4.08, +2.85%) remained in the spotlight. BHP Billiton said it would go directly to Potash's holders with an unchanged offer price of $130 a share in cash, even after Potash's board described the bid as "grossly inadequate." See full story on BHP's offer.

Hostile offer for Potash

BHP launches a hostile bid to buy Canada's Potash, a bid that Potash's management called 'grossly inadequate.'

The dollar slipped 0.5% to 85.21 Japanese yen, while the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (EURUSD 1.2870, -0.0010, -0.0776%) gained 0.3% to $1.2914.

European shares lost ground as mining stocks came under pressure, with the U.K.'s benchmark FTSE 100 index /quotes/comstock/23i!i:ukx (UK:UKX 5,303, -47.68, -0.89%) falling 0.7%.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 Average rose 0.9%, while China's Shanghai Composite ended down 0.2%.

Oil futures opened lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 87 cents to $74.90 a barrel.

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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