MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures rise as Portugal sells bonds

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By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures rose on Wednesday, tracking a rally in European equities, as investors digested the results from a Portuguese government debt auction and awaited the Federal Reserve’s report on current economic conditions.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,685, +69.00, +0.59%)  gained 70 points to 11,686 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,279, +8.90, +0.70%)  rose 9.1 points to 1,279.5.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,300, +14.75, +0.65%)  advanced 15 points to 2,300.50.

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European stocks rallied, as the Portuguese government sold 1.25 billion euros ($1.62 billion) in bonds. The auction was largely seen as a success, even as long-term worries over Portugal and other debt-burdened nations in the euro zone remain. Read more on lingering worries following Portugal’s debt auction.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:STOXX600 285.38, +3.40, +1.21%)  gained 1% and Spain’s IBEX 35 index surged 3.6% in intraday trading. Italian stocks also advanced, up 2.8%. See more on broad-based gains for European stocks.

U.S.-listed shares of Spanish banking giant Banco Santander /quotes/comstock/13*!std/quotes/nls/std (STD 9.83, +0.09, +0.92%)  surged 5.8% and those of rival BBVA /quotes/comstock/13*!bbva/quotes/nls/bbva (BBVA 9.21, +0.18, +1.99%)  gained 5% in premarket trading.

In economic data released before the U.S. open, import prices were reported up 1.1% for December. At 2 p.m. Eastern, the Fed will release its Beige Book, an anecdotal compilation by the regional Fed banks detailing current economic conditions.

Also Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spoke on what’s ahead for the U.S.-China economic relationship, with his address at Johns Hopkins University coming ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington next week.

The blue-chip Dow industrials /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,672, +34.43, +0.30%)  gained 0.3% on Tuesday, buoyed by optimism over corporate earnings and the easing of European sovereign-debt tensions.

On the corporate front, shares of ITT Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!itt/quotes/nls/itt (ITT 52.78, +0.04, +0.08%)  rallied in premarket trade after the conglomerate said its board has backed a plan to split the company into three publicly traded companies. See more on ITT’s plan to split off defense and water businesses.

Oil major Chevron Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!cvx/quotes/nls/cvx (CVX 91.83, +1.42, +1.57%)  said late Tuesday fourth-quarter earnings are expected to be higher than the profit reported in the preceding quarter. Upstream results are projected to improve between sequential quarters, boosted by higher crude-oil prices, according to the Dow component.

In the financial sector, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 169.36, -0.40, -0.24%)  may see active trade after J.P. Morgan Cazenove downgraded the investment bank to neutral from overweight, saying the move is “purely valuation driven.”

In commodities, crude-oil futures were little changed at $91.35 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex, while gold futures edged down $2.40 to $1,381.90 an ounce.

In foreign-exchange trading, the dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 80.57, -0.28, -0.34%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, fell to 80.735.

The euro was little changed at $1.2985, as traders keyed on Portugal’s debt auction. Read more in Currencies.

Polya Lesova is chief of MarketWatch’s London bureau.

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