By Simon Kennedy, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â" U.S. stock futures rose on Wednesday after drug maker Genzyme Corp. agreed to a sweetened $20.1 billion offer and personal computer maker Dell Inc. beat earningsâ expectations.
Stock-index futures only lightly eased back on mild gains after data showing U.S. housing starts climbed more than expected in January. A separate report had producer prices climbing 0.8% last month.
The Genzyme /quotes/comstock/15*!genz/quotes/nls/genz (GENZ 75.32, +1.02, +1.37%) Â deal will see French pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis SA /quotes/comstock/24s!e:san (FR:SAN 51.55, +1.75, +3.51%) Â /quotes/comstock/13*!sny/quotes/nls/sny (SNY 34.83, +0.34, +0.99%) Â pay $20.1 billion in cash along with a series of milestone payments based on the performance of certain drugs. Read more on Sanofi's acquisition of Genzyme.
Dell profit shows diversification
Strong fourth-quarter results benefited from lower costs and wider profit margins on server sales, not to mention a greater push into new business lines.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 12,262, +60.00, +0.49%) Â rose 31 points to 12,233 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,334, +7.50, +0.57%) Â gained 3.9 points to 1,330.2.
Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,393, +11.00, +0.46%) Â were up 6.25 points at 2,387.75.
U.S. stocks have been on a tear lately but closed with modest losses on Tuesday. Economic reports showed retail sales climbing less than expected and the cost of imported goods rising. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,285, +58.16, +0.48%) Â closed down 41.55 points, or around 0.3%.
The minutes from the latest meeting of the Federal Reserveâs Federal Open Market Committee will also be released, at 2 p.m. Eastern.
âThe perception of a U.S. recovery is becoming more entrenched,â said Andrew Dalton, chief investment officer at Dalton Strategic Partnership.
âNorth American fourth-quarter earnings results, together with the associated corporate outlook for this year, have continued to impress,â Dalton said in a note to clients.
With three quarters of the S&P 500 by market capitalization having reported earnings, core profits have been 6.2% higher than analysts were forecasting at the start of earnings season, Dalton said.
Continuing that trend of stronger-than-expected earnings, shares of Dell /quotes/comstock/15*!dell/quotes/nls/dell (DELL 15.76, +1.85, +13.30%) Â jumped 6.6% in premarket trading.
Late Tuesday, the computer maker said net profit nearly tripled, driven by strong fourth-quarter corporate sales. Adjusted earnings of 53 cents a share were well ahead of the 36-cent consensus forecast. Read more on Dell's profit surge.
Also higher ahead of the opening bell, shares of discount retailer Family Dollar Stores Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!fdo/quotes/nls/fdo (FDO 53.58, +9.62, +21.88%) Â surged 25% to $55.05 after the company said itâs received an unsolicited takeover bid from Trian Group worth between $55 and $60 a share in cash.
Shares of book and music retailer Borders Group Inc. Â fell 23% in pre-open trade after it filed for reorganization| under Chapter 11 bankruptcy code. The retailer said it will shutter close 30% of its stores.
Major companies reporting results on Wednesday include Comcast Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!cmcsa/quotes/nls/cmcsa (CMCSA 25.30, +1.14, +4.71%) /quotes/comstock/15*!cmcsk/quotes/nls/cmcsk (CMCSK 23.90, +1.29, +5.71%) , Deere & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!de/quotes/nls/de (DE 95.82, +2.20, +2.35%) Â and CBS Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!cbs/quotes/nls/cbs (CBS 21.83, +0.18, +0.81%) /quotes/comstock/13*!cbs.a/quotes/nls/cbs.a (CBS.A 22.05, +0.23, +1.05%) , among others.
European stock markets were also higher. The French CAC 40 index /quotes/comstock/30t!i:px1 (FR:PX1 4,151, +40.92, +1.00%) Â was up 0.8%, helped by strong gains for Societe Generale /quotes/comstock/24s!e:gle (FR:GLE 51.24, +2.38, +4.87%) Â after the lender beat earnings expectations.
Asian markets ended mostly higher, with Japanâs Nikkei 225 Average /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 (JP:NI225 10,808, +61.62, +0.57%) Â closing up 0.6%.
Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London.Powered By iWebRSS.com