MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Indications: Stock futures gain as jobless claims fall

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By Kate Gibson and Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures pointed broadly higher Wednesday as the number of filings for jobless benefits declined sharply last week and as results from upscale jewelry maker Tiffany & Co. beat estimates.

Already on the rise, stock-index futures climbed further after the Labor Department reported first-time unemployment claims fell by 34,000 last week to 407,000 â€" a drop that came as “a huge positive surprise,” Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, wrote in a note. See more on the improvement in unemployment claims.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 11,150, 0.00, 0.00%)  gained 67 points to 11,081 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,196, -0.60, -0.05%)  rose 8.4 points to 1,186.7.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/13*!ndz/quotes/nls/ndz (NDZ 10.77, +0.10, +0.94%)  advanced 15.25 to 2,134.25.

SAP hit with penalty in Oracle suit

A jury's verdict that SAP must pay Oracle $1.3 billion over stolen intellectual property looks certain to be appealed.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported orders for U.S. durable goods declined in October, while consumer spending climbed for a fifth month as personal incomes also rose.

In addition, year-over-year core inflation rose 0.9% in October, a record low for data going back to 1960, according to the government.

The blue-chip Dow industrials /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,187, +150.91, +1.37%)  slumped 142.21 points, or 1.3%, on Tuesday, falling for two consecutive trading days, as global markets were rattled by news that North Korea had launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island.

“Geopolitical concerns are usually not long lasting,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners.

“It happened two days before the holiday and it’s going to be a long weekend, and that exaggerated the move on the downside,” Cardillo added.

Shortly after the U.S. stock market opens, the University of Michigan consumer-sentiment index for November is due out, to be followed by housing-market data.

Shares of Oracle Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!orcl/quotes/nls/orcl (ORCL 27.74, +0.55, +2.02%)  gained after a jury ruled Tuesday that German software group SAP AG /quotes/comstock/13*!sap/quotes/nls/sap (SAP 48.15, -0.54, -1.11%)   /quotes/comstock/11e!fsap (DE:SAP 36.07, -0.20, -0.54%)  must pay $1.3 billion over intellectual-property theft.

And, Tiffany /quotes/comstock/13*!tif/quotes/nls/tif (TIF 61.33, +3.06, +5.25%)   reported a 27% rise in net income in the third quarter, with the jewelry maker known for its trademark turquoise box also hiking its yearly forecast above Wall Street’s expectations. See more on Tiffany raising fiscal-year forecast.

In Asia overnight, South Korea’s Kospi Composite ended down 0.2%, paring most of its intraday losses.

Tuesday’s move by North Korea “reflects its long-standing pattern of provocations,” said Evan Feigenbaum, strategist at Eurasia Group, in a note. “But other countries, including South Korea, are unlikely to undertake a major escalation.”

In Europe, most stock markets gained, buoyed by news that Germany’s Ifo business-sentiment index surged to its highest levels since the nation was reunified. See story on German business confidence

Sovereign-debt worries, however, continued to simmer. Portugal was hit by a general strike over austerity measures, while the Irish government presented a four-year budget plan. See story on Portugal’s strike

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 79.74, +0.06, +0.08%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, was little changed at 79.58.

In commodities, crude-oil futures for January delivery gained 52 cents to $81.77 a barrel, while gold futures moved down $1.70 to stand at $1,375.90 an ounce.

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

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