MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures maintain rise after data

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By Polya Lesova and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures rose Tuesday after earnings from retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc. topped estimates and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. rejected a $38.6 billion takeover bid.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 52 points to 10,325.00, and S&P 500 futures added 7.7 points to 1,084.80.

Nasdaq 100 futures gained 11.25 points to 1,831.25.

The Commerce Department reported that housing starts climbed 1.7% in July to a less-than-forecast 546,000 pace, and building permits declined to the lowest level in more than a year. Read about housing starts.

Separately, the Labor Department said producer prices rose 0.2% in July, while core wholesale costs increased 0.3%.

"Core PPI came in a little hot and housing starts a little cool, relative to expectations," noted analysts at Action Economics.

News Hub: After the closing bell

Madeleine Lim and Michael Casey wrap up today's market action, including why stocks ended little changed and why small investors are increasingly seeking the safety of bonds.

Shares of Potash Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!pot/quotes/nls/pot (POT 140.06, +27.91, +24.88%) rallied in premarket trading after the world's biggest fertilizer producer turned down an unsolicited $130-a-share cash offer from U.K. mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. /quotes/comstock/13*!bhp/quotes/nls/bhp (BHP 70.35, -1.59, -2.21%) /quotes/comstock/23s!a:blt (UK:BLT 1,916, -46.50, -2.37%) .

On the earnings front, Dow component Wal-Mart /quotes/comstock/13*!wmt/quotes/nls/wmt (WMT 51.41, +1.00, +1.98%) reported second-quarter earnings of 97 cents a share, beating expectations of 96 cents a share. The retailer also raised its full-year outlook. Read about Wal-Mart's results.

"Earnings news from Wal-Mart in the U.S. will be a highlight for many -- the retail giant acting as an economic barometer in its own right," said Ben Potter, market strategist at IG Markets, in a note.

Home Depot /quotes/comstock/13*!hd/quotes/nls/hd (HD 28.71, +1.33, +4.86%) , the Atlanta home-improvement retailing giant, said its fiscal second-quarter net profit rose nearly 7% to $1.19 billion, or 72 cents a share, from the year-earlier period. Read about Home Depot's results.

A report on industrial production is due at 9:15 a.m. Eastern.

The Dow /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,447, +145.20, +1.41%) and the S&P 500 /quotes/comstock/21z!i1:in\x (SPX 1,097, +17.33, +1.61%) ended virtually flat Monday, as traders digested manufacturing data from the New York region and weaker-than-expected economic growth in Japan.

European stocks posted broad-based gains, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 258.31, +2.70, +1.06%) rising 0.7% in intraday trade.

Danish brewing giant Carlsberg /quotes/comstock/11i!cabgy (CABGY 17.55, +0.30, +1.74%) lifted its full-year profit forecast, as it reported a 36% rise in quarterly net profit. See more on Carlsberg.

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In the financial sector, Barclays PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!bcs/quotes/nls/bcs (BCS 20.37, +0.52, +2.62%) /quotes/comstock/23s!a:barc (UK:BARC 327.10, +8.80, +2.76%) agreed to pay $298 million to settle U.S. charges that it helped countries facing sanctions, including Cuba and Iran, to hide payments going into the U.S., according to reports.

In Germany, the ZEW business-climate index fell unexpectedly in August from the previous month. Economists had forecast the index to hold steady.

In the debt markets, Ireland auctioned 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in government bonds, the maximum amount on offer. The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (EURUSD 1.2890, +0.0068, +0.5303%) gained 0.5% to $1.2881. Read about Irish bonds.

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 82.17, -0.36, -0.44%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, dropped 0.4% to 82.177.

Oil futures gained 69 cents to $75.93 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex. Gold futures added 50 cents to $1,226.7 an ounce.

Most Asian markets finished with modest gains; a notable exception was Japan, where the Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.4%.

Polya Lesova is MarketWatch's London bureau chief. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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