MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures rise as Japan cuts rates

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By Barbara Kollmeyer and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock-index futures signaled opening gains for Wall Street on Tuesday after Japan moved to soften the yen, furthering thinking of like moves by other central banks.

The Bank of Japan announcement that it was cutting interest rates and would purchase bonds and other assets comes as Federal Reserve officials mull like steps to bolster the economic recovery.

“Another round of quantitative easing seems inevitable with the size and pace being the only question. It’s no wonder that gold is rising to another record high. Gold is not a bubble, money printing is,” Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, wrote in a note.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 10,757, +50.00, +0.47%)  were up 53 points at 10,760.00, while those for the Nasdaq 100 /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 1,994, +16.75, +0.85%)  advanced 17 points to 1,994

Futures for the S&P 500 gained 7.2 points to 1,142.00.

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Stocks lost ground on Monday as downgrades hit several sectors, raising jitters about earnings season, which blue chip Alcoa Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!aa/quotes/nls/aa (AA 11.92, -0.31, -2.53%) is due to kick off later this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,751, -78.41, -0.72%)  closed down 78.41 points to start the trading week, losing 0.7% to 10,751.27, as the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21z!i1:in\x (SPX 1,137, -9.21, -0.80%)  lost 9.21 points to 1,137.03.

First and foremost for the U.S. markets on Tuesday is the ISM non-manufacturing data for September, scheduled for release at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch are forecasting the index to rise to 52.3 from 51.5 in the prior month.

“After the disappointing ISM [manufacturing] number last week, people will watch very carefully what is happening with this index, the main factor to drive the market on the economic front,” said Francois Savary, economist and director of investments at the Reyl Group.

Friday’s nonfarm payrolls data for September remain the main event for the week, he said. “The influence of that number and the certainty concerning that number will be key from the point that people will be able to reassess prospects of rapid or not rapid quantitative easing and the Federal Reserve,” he said.

Savary said the market remains range-bound and the S&P 500 could go to 1,120, with much depending on Friday’s data. But until earnings season gets into full steam, macroeconomic issues will continue to be key, he said.

Stocks in focus for Tuesday include Yum Brands Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!yum/quotes/nls/yum (YUM 46.42, -0.06, -0.13%) , the fast-food giant that will report third-quarter earnings after the market closes.

Central banks delivered some surprises in overnight markets with the Bank of Australia holding steady on interest rates and the Bank of Japan dropping its policy interest-rate range to between zero and 0.1%, saying it plans to buy a variety of assets. Stocks in Japan largely shrugged off the news, while the Australian dollar fell but stocks there pared earlier losses.

Gold touched an new intraday record and was lately up $14.70 at $1,331.5 an ounce. The dollar sank against the yen after getting only a brief Bank of Japan-related boost.

The dollar and gold tend to move in different directions. The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 77.96, -0.49, -0.62%)  dropped to 77.988.

In Europe, stocks were poised to halt a six-session losing streak, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 258.89, +1.15, +0.45%)  gaining 0.1%. The market shook off news that Moody’s Investors Service has put Ireland’s credit rating under review for a possible downgrade.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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