MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures point higher

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By William L. Watts, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock-index futures were modestly higher Tuesday, holding gains after oil giant Chevron said it would buy Atlas Energy in a deal valued at $4.3 billion.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 11,382, +20.00, +0.18%)  rose 29 points to 11,391, while S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,223, +2.50, +0.20%)  gained 2.9 points to 1,222.9 and Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,192, +7.50, +0.34%)  rose 8.75 points to 2,192.75.

But analysts said a cautious tone prevails , with investors looking for reasons to book profits after equities notched two-year highs at the end of last week. “I think there is a bit of caution in the markets after rallying so strongly,” said Joshua Raymond, market strategist at City Index.

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Chevron Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!cvx/quotes/nls/cvx (CVX 84.80, -0.18, -0.21%)  said it will pay $3.2 billion in cash and assume $1.1 billion in debt to purchase Atlas Energy Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!atls/quotes/nls/atls (ATLS 31.72, +1.22, +4.00%)  in a deal valued at around $4.3 billion. Atlas shareholders will receive $38.25 a share in cash, a premium of 21% over its closing price Monday of $31.72. See Market Pulse item on Chevron’s deal for Atlas.

Financial-services firm Marsh & McLennan /quotes/comstock/13*!mmc/quotes/nls/mmc (MMC 25.98, +0.01, +0.04%)  on Tuesday said its adjusted income in the third quarter totaled 27 cents a share, down from 48 cents in the comparable period a year ago. Revenue rose 7% to $2.52 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet Research had forecast earnings of 28 cents a share on revenue of $2.49 billion.

European stock markets were higher Tuesday, boosted by strong corporate news at telecom giant Vodafone Group PLC /quotes/comstock/15*!vod/quotes/nls/vod (VOD 28.40, -0.07, -0.23%)   /quotes/comstock/23s!a:vod (UK:VOD 175.10, +0.10, +0.06%) , British bank Barclays PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!bcs/quotes/nls/bcs (BCS 18.55, -0.32, -1.70%)   /quotes/comstock/23s!a:barc (UK:BARC 293.80, +8.15, +2.85%)  and others. Read Europe Markets.

Meanwhile, gold futures continued to power upward, rising $16 to $1,419.20 an ounce in electronic trade. Oil futures rose 31 cents to $87.37 a barrel.

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U.S. equities finished mostly lower Monday, with weakness tied to a rebounding U.S. dollar and renewed worries about sovereign-debt problems on the periphery of the euro zone, particularly in Ireland and Portugal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,407, -37.24, -0.33%)  fell 37.24 points to close at 11,406.84, ending a six-day winning streak. The Nasdaq Composite /quotes/comstock/10y!i:comp (COMP 2,580, +1.07, +0.04%)  rose 1.07 points to 2,580.05, while the S&P 500 lost 2.60 points to close at 1,223.25, ending a string of five consecutive gains.

The dollar was slightly lower Tuesday. The European single currency /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (EURUSD 1.3923, +0.0005, +0.0359%)  traded at $1.3958 versus the dollar, a gain of 0.8%.

The dollar has tended to trade in an inverse relationship with equities and other assets perceived as risky.

Raymond said traders are likely to remain cautious ahead of a summit of leaders from the Group of 20 nations set to get under way later this week in South Korea.

Investors will be on the lookout for further signs of tension over the Federal Reserve’s renewed quantitative-easing program and other issues tied to concerns about currencies, analysts said.

The U.S. economic calendar features no major data releases Tuesday.

William L. Watts is a reporter for MarketWatch in London.

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