MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Friday, February 18, 2011

Indications: Futures slip ahead of G20, long weekend

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures traded marginally lower on Friday, as investors took to the sidelines ahead of the two-day Group of 20 meeting in Paris, the long holiday weekend and more unrest in the Middle East.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 12,296, +8.00, +0.07%)  fell 1 point to 12,287, while those for the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,339, +0.90, +0.07%)  dropped 0.6 points to 1,337.20.

Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,396, +2.50, +0.10%)  slipped 0.25 points to 2,393.25.

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“As we have seen so often in recent sessions, this weakness still looks to be a buying opportunity for most â€" yesterday saw fresh-recovery highs set again by the [Dow] index,” said Ben Critchley, sales trader at IG Index. “With nothing major on the economic calendar today, we may see a quiet finish to another positive week.”

U.S. stocks added to multiyear highs on Thursday in the wake of economic data and corporate results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,318, +29.97, +0.24%)  closed up 29.27 points, or 0.24%, at 12,318.14, the highest close since June 2008. The S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21z!i1:in\x (SPX 1,340, +4.11, +0.31%)  marked its highest close since June 2008 as well.

Markets will be watching for comments from the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers that begins Friday in Paris, with officials expected to try to address economic imbalances between nations. Read about how imbalances are a hot topic for G20 ministers.

In connection with the event, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to speak at a panel discussion on global imbalances and financial stability in Paris at 8 a.m. Eastern time.

At 9:45 a.m. Eastern, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will participate in a discussion on the state of the global recovery.

Markets were also cautious ahead of a long weekend. U.S. markets will be closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

And increasing unrest in the Middle East was also making a few wary, with more violence likely in Bahrain’s capital on Friday as protestors hold funerals for several people killed in a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations on Thursday.

There are no major economic data due Friday.

Among shares on the move, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!brcd/quotes/nls/brcd (BRCD 6.02, +0.30, +5.24%)  jumped 11.3% in premarket trade. After the closing bell on Thursday, Brocade reported adjusted first-quarter net income that was ahead of Wall Street forecasts.

Shares of Ford Motor Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!f/quotes/nls/f (F 15.97, -0.08, -0.50%)  could be in focus after the auto giant said it intends to set up a joint venture with Russian automotive group Sollers OJSC for producing and distributing Ford vehicles in Russia.

A handful of companies are due to report ahead of the market’s open, including Campbell Soup Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!cpb/quotes/nls/cpb (CPB 34.94, +0.42, +1.22%)  , Progress Energy Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!pgn/quotes/nls/pgn (PGN 45.92, +0.56, +1.23%)  and Pinnacle West Capital /quotes/comstock/13*!pnw/quotes/nls/pnw (PNW 41.72, +0.27, +0.65%) .

European stocks were mostly lower on Friday, after a five-session winning streak, with losses for miners and car makers weighing on the main bourses. Miners came under some pressure after China’s central bank hiked its reserve requirement ratio for banks by 50 basis points.

Stocks fell in Shanghai for the first time in seven sessions amid investor nervousness about potential tightening measures in China, where officials tend to announce policy measures ahead of weekends and public holidays.

Among major commodities, crude oil futures for March delivery fell 13 cents to $86.23 a barrel, while gold futures for April delivery were little changed at $1,385.60 an ounce.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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