MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures gain; AIG outlines plans

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By Polya Lesova and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures erased early losses Thursday, turning modestly higher after data on U.S. economic growth and the labor market proved better than anticipated.

Markets sanguine about European sovereign woes

Anglo Irish Bank will need more money, and Spain's credit ratings have been downgraded. Never mind, say the markets. The euro has risen and sovereign spreads narrowed, says Dow Jones Newswires' David Cottle.

Separate reports had U.S. economic growth revised up to 1.7% for the second quarter and initial jobless claims falling by 16,000 to 453,000 last week.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 10,715, -65.00, -0.60%)  gained 28 points to 10,808.

S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,137, -3.60, -0.32%)  rose 2.80 points to 1,143.7, and Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 1,991, -18.00, -0.90%)  added 6 points to 2,015.

U.S. stocks ended slightly lower on Wednesday, with the blue-chip Dow industrials /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,778, -57.60, -0.53%)  falling 0.2%. The Dow, however, is still on track to register its best September performance since 1939, according to data from Dow Jones Indexes.

At 9:45 a.m. Eastern, the September Chicago purchasing managers index will be released. It will come a day ahead of the closely watched Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index.

After the market opens, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to testify on financial regulatory reform in Washington.

Investors also digested a barrage of news from Europe. Ireland detailed the soaring cost of bailing out its troubled banking sector, and Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Spain’s credit rating, a much-awaited move. See story on Spain’s debt-rating cut.

On the positive side, Germany said the number of its unemployed declined in September.

Most Asian markets finished lower overnight; in Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average dropped 2%. See Asia Markets report.

In Europe, stock markets also posted losses, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 260.15, -0.87, -0.33%)  falling 0.2% in afternoon trading. See Europe Markets report.

”We have seen some fairly good numbers today from the euro zone â€" Germany saw the unemployment rate decline,” said Mads Koefoed, a strategist at Saxo Bank. “These numbers suggest that we still have some sort of recovery going on in Europe.”

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However, “the problem for stocks has been that the last few days have been all about the sovereign debt concerns,” Koefoed said.

Ireland and Spain were once again in the spotlight Thursday.

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