NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â" U.S. stock futures on Thursday pointed to opening gains on Wall Street as global equity markets rallied on the Federal Reserveâs expanded bond buys and as retailers shed light on October sales.
Stock futures retained the bulk of their gains after the government reported initial claims for unemployment rose by 20,000 to 457,000 last week and U.S. productivity rose 1.9% in the third quarter. Both numbers were higher than Wall Street expected.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 11,350, +173.00, +1.55%) Â rose 83 points to 11,260 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,212, +14.90, +1.24%) Â advanced 9.5 points to 1,206.8.
Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,185, +20.75, +0.96%) Â gained 17.5 to 2,181.75.
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âFor those retailers that are out with October comps (comparable sales) thus far, a mixed bag of pre-holiday goodies could summarize what I am seeing,â said Brian Sozzi, equity research analyst at Wall Street Strategies.
Discount retailer Target Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!tgt/quotes/nls/tgt (TGT 55.63, +1.66, +3.08%) reported a 1.7% gain in same-store sales in October, with the retailer narrowly topping Wall Streetâs expectations of a 1.5% rise.
Gap Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!gps/quotes/nls/gps (GPS 20.41, +1.15, +5.96%) reported same-store sales for October climbed 2%, exceeding the expectations of analysts, who expected the clothing retailer to report a drop.
The Fed on Wednesday said it would purchase a further $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter of 2011, a pace of about $75 billion a month. It will also keep reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings.
âBasically the Fed realizes it might have to do more if Congress is unwilling,â Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald, wrote in a note.
On Thursday, the Bank of England said it would keep its official bank rate at 0.5%, as expected. After the news, the British pound extended gains versus the dollar, rising 0.8%. The European Central Bank also kept rates on hold.
In Europe, stock markets rallied to multi-month highs on the Fed news, with the U.K. FTSE 100 index /quotes/comstock/23i!i:ukx (UK:UKX 5,864, +115.41, +2.01%) Â surging 1.7%.
âThe euphoric state of the markets is perhaps short-sighted,â said Phil Gillett from Spreadex Ltd in a note to clients.
âYes, the QE [quantitative easing] should reduce borrowing costs and a weaker dollar help to boost manufacturing, [but] there is still the concern that the US economy is in such bad condition that it has had to revert back to QE,â he said.
Commodities also posted strong gains. Gold futures surged $38 to $1,375.6 an ounce in electronic trading on Globex.
In contrast, the greenback dropped against its major rivals, with the dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 75.82, -0.66, -0.86%) Â falling 1% to 75.737.
U.S.-listed shares of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan /quotes/comstock/13*!pot/quotes/nls/pot (POT 140.70, -4.80, -3.30%) fell in premarket trade after Canada blocked BHP Billitonâs /quotes/comstock/13*!bhp/quotes/nls/bhp (BHP 90.40, +4.32, +5.02%) Â $39 billion offer for the globeâs largest fertilizer producer.
Polya Lesova is chief of MarketWatchâs London bureau. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.Powered By iWebRSS.com