MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Indications: U.S. futures edge up ahead of data, Fed

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures were trading slightly higher Tuesday, as investors awaited key retail-sales data and a decision on monetary policy from the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,379, +13.00, +0.11%)  rose 19 points to 11,385, and S&P 500 index futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,238, +1.60, +0.13%)  gained 2 points to 1,238.20.

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Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,213, +2.00, +0.09%)  added 3.50 points to 2,214.

Investors headed to the sidelines before the FOMC’s policy decision, due at 2:15 p.m. Eastern time.

“On the surface, nothing should really change dramatically because we’ve already had the decision on QE2 [a second round of quantitative easing], but at the same time, you need to be sensitive to any shifts in the language of the accompanying statement,” said Joel Kruger, currency strategist with Daily FX.

“Any sort of optimism suggesting that economic conditions are improving will have an impact on the market ... in favor of the U.S. dollar,” said Kruger. “That would probably weigh on equities.”

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Economic data will also take the spotlight, with November retail sales and producer prices expected at 8:30 a.m. Eastern and October business inventories due at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Investors will likely focus on retail-sales data, with a consensus of economists surveyed by MarketWatch expecting a 0.6% increase for the month, compared with a 1.2% rise in October.

U.S. stocks narrowed gains into the close Monday as markets kept a close watch on a tax-cut vote that eventually cleared a key Senate hurdle. Those gains were underpinned by relief after China refrained from raising interest rates despite strong inflation data.

On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,429, +18.24, +0.16%)  closed up 0.2%, while the Nasdaq /quotes/comstock/10y!i:comp (COMP 2,625, -12.63, -0.48%)  fell 0.5%.

On the corporate front, shares of Amgen Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!amgn/quotes/nls/amgn (AMGN 54.11, +0.22, +0.40%)  rallied nearly 9% in premarket trading. The biotechnology firm said late Monday that a study of its bone drug Xgeva showed it helped prostate-cancer patients live longer without the disease spreading to their bones.

Shares of drug giant Pfizer Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!pfe/quotes/nls/pfe (PFE 17.19, +0.17, +1.00%)  may see active trade Tuesday after the company raised its first-quarter dividend by about 11% to 20 cents a share.

Best Buy Co. Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!bby/quotes/nls/bby (BBY 41.70, -0.10, -0.24%)  is due to release quarterly results before the market open.

Real-estate investment trust HCP Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!hcp/quotes/nls/hcp (HCP 32.52, +0.16, +0.49%)  said it will buy all of the real-estate assets of privately owned nursing-home operator HCR ManorCare Inc. for $6.1 billion in a cash-and-stock deal.

European stocks traded mostly lower after six consecutive sessions of gains. Read more about Europe Markets.

In Asia, stocks advanced, with South Korean shares posting their highest close in more than three years. Read more about Asia Markets.

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 79.13, -0.15, -0.19%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, dropped 0.4% to 78.958.

January crude-oil futures rose 8 cents to $88.69 a barrel, while gold futures stayed above the $1,400 mark. Gold for February delivery rose $8.30 to $1,406.30 an ounce.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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