MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Monday, February 14, 2011

Indications: U.S. futures edge lower after recent gains

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By Polya Lesova and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures crept lower Monday after a two-week advance, as investors awaited President Barack Obama’s formal budget proposal that would cut the U.S. deficit by $1.1 trillion in 10 years.

“The market’s resilience has impressed even a die-hard bull like me. Both the bulls and the bears are looking for the next catalyst to move the market,” said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 12,210, -31.00, -0.25%)  slipped 5 points to 12,236, and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,327, 0.00, 0.00%)  fell 1.9 points to 1,325.4.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,384, +5.50, +0.23%)  were off 1.5 points to 2,376.75.

On Friday, the blue-chip Dow industrials /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,255, -18.01, -0.15%)  rose, posting a gain of 1.5% for the week, as Hosni Mubarak’s resignation as president of Egypt reduced a perceived geopolitical risk, which had been weighing on investor sentiment.

In deal news, EchoStar Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!sats/quotes/nls/sats (SATS 30.17, +0.29, +0.98%)  said it would acquire Hughes Communications Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!hugh/quotes/nls/hugh (HUGH 59.48, -2.30, -3.72%)  for about $2 billion, including assumed debt.

Also Monday, Dow component General Electric Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 21.57, +0.24, +1.12%)  said it will buy the well-support division of U.K. firm John Wood Group PLC /quotes/comstock/23s!a:wg. (UK:WG. 650.00, +77.50, +13.54%)  for about $2.8 billion.

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No major U.S. economic data were scheduled for release Monday, as the White House is scheduled to release its budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year starting in October. The proposal forecasts that the deficit will rise to $1.6 trillion in 2011, up from $1.3 trillion in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a senior Democrat.

Overnight, Asian markets finished with strong gains. The Shanghai Composite index rallied 2.5%, as traders digested data showing a surge in both imports and exports in January. Read more about Chinese data.

In Tokyo, stocks also rose, with investors shrugging off figures showing that the Japanese economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2010. The data mean China has officially passed Japan as the No. 2 global economy, behind the U.S. See more on Japanese data.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:STOXX600 289.19, +1.20, +0.42%)  gained 0.3% in intraday trading.

After the market closes, hotel operator Marriott International Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!mar/quotes/nls/mar (MAR 40.82, -0.40, -0.97%)  will release results.

In premarket trading, shares of Nokia Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!nok/quotes/nls/nok (NOK 8.91, -0.46, -4.86%)  fell almost 4%, extending their decline from the previous session, when the firm announced a broad partnership with Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 27.15, -0.10, -0.37%) .

J.P. Morgan Cazenove downgraded Nokia to underweight from overweight, saying that “the degree to which the [Microsoft] deal is beneficial to Nokia is still unclear.”

Shares of Seahawk Drilling Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!hawk/quotes/nls/hawk (HAWK 4.55, -3.35, -42.41%)  tumbled 59% after the oil-exploration company filed for bankruptcy protection and said it would sell its assets to Hercules Offshore Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!hero/quotes/nls/hero (HERO 4.22, +0.60, +16.57%) .

In commodities, oil futures fell 3 cents to $85.55 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex.

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 78.65, +0.19, +0.24%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, rose to 78.746.

Polya Lesova is chief of MarketWatch’s London bureau. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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