MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Monday, August 9, 2010

Indications: Stock futures gain, with Hewlett-Packard in focus

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By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures posted modest gains Monday, shaking off some of the previous session's declines, as technology giant Hewlett-Packard Co. was thrust into the spotlight after the departure of its chief executive.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 43 points to 10,656, and S&P 500 futures advanced 5.20 points to 1,124.70.

Nasdaq 100 futures gained 6.50 points to 1,909.

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No major economic data are on the calendar Monday, with traders awaiting the outcome of the Federal Reserve's monetary-policy meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

The Fed has to "balance admitting the recovery is not as strong as they'd like (which would be a big move) and implementing fresh QE [quantitative easing], against not announcing fresh action, which may disappoint a liquidity-hungry market," said strategists at Deutsche Bank.

It's "a delicate balancing act," and the result of the meeting is a close call, they said.

H-P shares in focus

On the corporate front, Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Mark Hurd resigned Friday following a probe into a sexual-harassment claim against him made by former contractor Jodie Fisher.

In a statement released Sunday by her attorney, Fisher said she had resolved her claim with Hurd privately and without litigation. She added that she and Hurd had never had an affair or intimate sexual relationship.

Shares of H-P /quotes/comstock/13*!hpq/quotes/nls/hpq (HPQ 41.85, -4.50, -9.71%) fell 7.3% in premarket trade on the New York Stock Exchange, according to FactSet data.

In other news, the chief executive of Sara Lee Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!sle/quotes/nls/sle (SLE 14.84, -0.17, -1.13%) , Brenda Barnes, will resign in order to focus on her health. Barnes had been on medical leave since mid-May after suffering a stroke. The firm's board has started looking for a new CEO.

Constellation Energy Group Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!ceg/quotes/nls/ceg (CEG 30.25, -0.52, -1.69%) said it offered to buy Boston Generating's 2,950-megawatt fleet, the third-largest power-generating portfolio in New England, for about $1.1 billion.

Tyson Foods Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!tsn/quotes/nls/tsn (TSN 17.14, +0.36, +2.15%) said its fiscal third-quarter earnings rose to 65 cents a share from 35 cents a share in the same period a year ago.

European stocks posted broad-based gains, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 262.29, +3.58, +1.38%) rising 1.4% in afternoon trading.

Shares of BP PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!bp/quotes/nls/bp (BP 41.33, +0.65, +1.60%) /quotes/comstock/23s!a:bp. (UK:BP. 433.70, +8.35, +1.96%) added 1.7% in London trading after the oil giant said its so-called static kill and cementing operations on the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico have been successful. No new oil has flowed into the sea since mid-July, BP said, adding that the cost of the spill response has soared to $6.1 billion.

BP's tests show the well is plugged

BP's Tests show the cement plug is working and the seal is holding on its troubled well in the Gulf of Mexico. Video courtesy of Fox News.

In the pharmaceutical sector, AstraZeneca PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!azn/quotes/nls/azn (AZN 52.30, +0.31, +0.60%) /quotes/comstock/23s!a:azn (UK:AZN 3,299, +44.00, +1.35%) said it will pay $198 million to settle U.S. lawsuits over its Seroquel drug, which is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

In the commodity markets, September oil futures gained 94 cents to $81.64 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex. Gold futures advanced $3.50 to $1,208.80 an ounce.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, wheat futures fell for a second session after rallying last week on concerns over supplies from Russia.

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 80.52, +0.12, +0.14%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, gained 0.2% to 80.552. The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (EURUSD 1.3250, -0.0040, -0.3010%) fell 0.3% to $1.3245.

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

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