MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Friday, February 4, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures hold steady after payrolls

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By Kate Gibson and Simon Kennedy, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures retained the bulk of Friday gains after the nation’s unemployment rate unexpectedly declined in January while nonfarm payrolls climbed less than anticipated, curbed by poor weather.

Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, noted positive and negative aspects to the government report.

“Bottom line, who knows?” wrote Boockvar in an emailed reaction to the data that found the addition of 36,000 jobs in January and pegged the jobless rate at 9%, down from 9.4% in December. See more on U.S. employment report for January.

Stock-index futures wavered lower but at last check retained mild gains, with futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 12,040, 0.00, 0.00%)  up by 16 points to 12,025.00 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,307, +3.90, +0.30%)  up by 1.4 point at 1,304.7.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,337, +15.75, +0.68%)  rose 2.25 points to 2,324.

Clinton urges immediate talks

Secretary of State Clinton again calls on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government to begin immediate talks on a political transition.

U.S. markets rallied on Thursday following robust January sales figures from a slew of retailers as well as positive economic data on productivity and the non-manufacturing sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,092, +29.89, +0.25%)  closed up 20.29 points, or 0.2%, at 12,062.26.

Before Friday’s opening bell, shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!lvs/quotes/nls/lvs (LVS 46.03, -4.25, -8.45%)  fell after the casino operator reported late Thursday revenue short of market expectations.

Shares of Power One Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!pwer/quotes/nls/pwer (PWER 9.26, -2.49, -21.19%)  slumped after the power-converter company’s revenue forecast disappointed investors.

Shares of JDS Uniphase Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!jdsu/quotes/nls/jdsu (JDSU 22.76, +4.83, +26.92%) , which provides optical products, surged in premarket action. The company reported second-quarter earnings late Thursday that were well ahead of expectations.

Health-care insurer Aetna Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!aet/quotes/nls/aet (AET 37.42, +4.15, +12.47%) reported operating earnings of 63 cents a share for the latest quarter, marginally ahead of the 62 cents consensus forecast of analysts polled by FactSet Research.

In other news, Bank of America Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!bac/quotes/nls/bac (BAC 14.29, -0.14, -0.97%)  entered a 10-year distribution deal with Australia’s QBE Insurance Group under which QBE will pay $700 million for distribution rights.

In international markets, gains for banks and miners helped drive European stock indexes higher, with the U.K.’s FTSE 100 /quotes/comstock/23i!i:ukx (UK:UKX 5,997, +14.04, +0.23%)  up 0.3% in midday trading. See European Markets.

Most Asian markets advanced, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 Average /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 (JP:NI225 10,544, +112.16, +1.08%)  closing up 1.1% following a proposed merger between Nippon Steel Corp. and Sumitomo Metal Industries. See Asia Markets.

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York. Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London.

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