MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Indications: Futures point to slight lapse for Wall Street

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By William L. Watts and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures retained mild losses Thursday after economic data showed a drop in durable-goods orders and weekly first-time jobless claims basically in a holding pattern.

Off 9 points before the reports, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,505, +10.00, +0.09%) lately slipped 7 points to 11,488, while S&P 500 index futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,253, -1.80, -0.14%)  fell 2.3 points to 1,252.2.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,229, -7.50, -0.34%)  declined 5.75 points to 2,232.75.

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Markets are in a state of “general drift at the moment,” said Michael Hewson, strategist at CMC Markets. “There are no negative factors weighing on sentiment.”

The only potential risks would stem from any renewed tensions between North Korea and South Korea or from a Chinese rate hike, he said.

On Wednesday, U.S. stocks finished at their highest level in more than two years. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,569, +8.86, +0.08%)  ended 0.2% higher at 11,559.49, its highest close since Aug. 28, 2008.

The S&P 500 /quotes/comstock/21z!i1:in\x (SPX 1,257, -1.84, -0.15%)  rose 0.3% Wednesday to 1,258.84, its highest close since September 2008, while the Nasdaq Composite index /quotes/comstock/10y!i:comp (COMP 2,665, -6.26, -0.23%)  advanced 0.2% to end at 2,671.48.

University of Michigan consumer-sentiment data for December are set for release at 9:55 a.m. Eastern, while November new-home sales figures are due out at 10 a.m. Eastern.

U.S.-listed shares of Allied Irish Banks PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!aib/quotes/nls/aib (AIB 0.92, -0.17, -15.88%)   fell 17% in premarket trade after Ireland’s government said it would pour 3.7 billion euros into what once was the nation’s biggest publicly traded lender. Read more about the government injection into AIB.

Jo-Ann Stores Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!jas/quotes/nls/jas (JAS 60.25, +14.62, +32.04%)   shares surged 33% before the bell after the fabric and craft-store operator said it was being acquired by an affiliate of private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP for about $1.6 billion.

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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