- Pre-Market Indications

Monday, October 25, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures rise in wake of G-20 meeting

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By William L. Watts and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" A pledge by finance officials from the Group of 20 nations to avoid competitive currency devaluations helped lift U.S. stock-index futures Monday.

Stock index futures retained their gains as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered remarks at the start of a conference on housing finance, saying regulators were reviewing the impact of foreclosures on the economy.

G-20 won’t stop currency wars

With the dollar still falling on US monetary easing, currency intervention is still likely despite G-20's pledge to end the currency war.

“We didn’t think he’d provide any real hints on quantitative easing as we don’t believe a firm decision will be made” before central bank officials hold a two-day monetary-policy setting meeting starting Nov.2, said Action Economics.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 11,130, +40.00, +0.36%)  rose 46 points to 11,136, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500-share index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,186, +5.60, +0.47%)  advanced 5.8 points to 1,186.5. Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,115, +11.00, +0.52%)  gained 8.5 points to 2,112.25.

“There’s a degree of hope that after the weekend’s G-20 meeting, the world’s major economies will now shy away from pursuing competitive currency devaluations and this should offer further confidence for equities across the board, although it has done little to support the dollar,” said Chris Weston, research analyst at IG Markets.


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The dollar came back under renewed pressure, while gold and other commodities rallied alongside equities as investors’ appetite for risk increased.

In a joint statement released at the conclusion of the two-day meeting in South Korea on Saturday, the G-20 officials agreed they would “move towards more market-determined exchange rate systems that reflect underlying economic fundamentals and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies.”

“Since the statement [...] the market has sold dollars and bought risky assets with relish,” said Kathleen Brooks, research director at, in a note to clients.

“In our view, there are two reasons for the dollar sell-off: firstly, the G-20 hasn’t stopped the wheels of the Fed’s printing presses from turning, and secondly, it has calmed currency tensions for now, which makes risky assets more attractive to hold,” she said.

The meeting of G-20 finance officials produced little concrete agreement. Officials agreed to try to maintain current-account balances at “sustainable levels” but appeared unable to reach agreement on a precise target, as had been proposed by U.S. officials.

On the corporate front, Office Depot Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!odp/quotes/nls/odp (ODP 4.63, -0.02, -0.43%)  said Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Odland will resign on Nov. 1, with board member Neil Astrian to serve as interim chairman and CEO while the board searches for a replacement.

The company also said it expects third-quarter earnings of 3 cents a share, excluding a one-time gain of 15 cents a share, and revenue of $2.9 billion. That compares to an estimate for a loss of 2 cents a share and revenue of $2.9 billion produced by a FactSet Research survey of analysts.

Shares of CommScope Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!ctv/quotes/nls/ctv (CTV 23.12, +0.22, +0.96%) , the Hickory, N.C., maker of telecom infrastructure equipment, rallied in premarket activity after the company confirmed that it was in talks that could lead private-equity firm Carlyle Group to buy it for $31.50 a share.

Earnings data continue to flow. Strong earnings figures have been credited with recent equity strength, although strategists have warned that less robust revenue data has raised questions about the sustainability of profit growth over the long run.

Earnings from Texas Instruments /quotes/comstock/13*!txn/quotes/nls/txn (TXN 28.66, +0.44, +1.56%)  and Amgen /quotes/comstock/15*!amgn/quotes/nls/amgn (AMGN 57.55, -0.07, -0.12%)  are expected after Monday’s close.

Later in the week, investors will digest results from Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 25.38, -0.04, -0.17%) , Exxon Mobil Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!xom/quotes/nls/xom (XOM 66.34, +0.02, +0.03%)  and other bellwethers.

But while earnings data remain in the spotlight for now, investors will soon turn their attention toward the U.S. mid-term congressional elections on Nov. 2, analysts said. Read Weekend Snapshot.

Concerns about prospects for corporate profit growth and nervousness ahead of the conclusion of the G-20 meeting capped gains for U.S. equities Friday, although major indexes ended with a third consecutive week of gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14.01 points Friday to close at 11,132.56, but held on to a weekly gain of around 0.6%.

Investors will also see U.S. housing data Monday. September existing-home sales figures are scheduled for release at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

European stocks rose on Monday, with shares of luxury-goods firms LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton /quotes/comstock/24s!e:mc (FR:MC 117.25, +3.95, +3.49%)  and Hermes International /quotes/comstock/24s!e:rms (FR:RMS 200.55, +24.35, +13.82%)  rallying on deal news. Read Europe Stocks for more.

The U.S. dollar fell to a 15-year low versus the Japanese currency /quotes/comstock/21o!x:susdjpy (USDYEN 80.5600, -0.8700, -1.0684%)  and traded at 80.60 yen in recent action, a loss of 1.1% from Friday. The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (EURUSD 1.4016, +0.0061, +0.4371%)  rose 0.6% to $1.4041.

Gold futures /quotes/comstock/21e!f:gc\z10 (GCZ10 1,345, +20.20, +1.52%)  rose $20.10 in electronic trade to $1,345.20 an ounce. Crude-oil futures were up 71 cents at $82.40 a barrel.

William L. Watts is a reporter for MarketWatch in London. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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