MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Monday, February 7, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures point to opening gains

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures rose on Monday, with investors emboldened after key psychological levels were reached on the major exchanges last week.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 12,073, +28.00, +0.23%)  were up 24 points to 12,069, while those for the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,311, +3.80, +0.29%)  rose 3.6 points to 1,310.80.

Futures for the Nasdaq 100 /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,339, +1.75, +0.07%)  gained 2.75 points to 2,340.25.

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Markets closed higher on Friday, and for the week, with the Dow /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,092, +29.89, +0.25%)  up 29.89 points, or 0.3%, to 12,092.15. The Dow and the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21z!i1:in\x (SPX 1,311, +3.77, +0.29%)  last week pushed above the key 12,000 and 1,300 levels, respectively, for the first time since 2008.

The Dow rose 2.3% for the week and the S&P 500 rose 2.7%, both the best weekly performances since Dec. 3.

Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers, said there was plenty of enthusiasm for U.S. stocks following Friday’s jobs data, which showed only 36,000 additions to nonfarm payrolls, but a surprise drop in the unemployment rate to 9% for January. See report on payrolls.

The key levels reached last week are inspiring investors, Latif added, in emailed comments.

Geopolitical events are also helping. “We are seeing strength in the market due to chatter about Egypt calming down,” he said. In Cairo, some businesses were trying to return to normal, but many protestors remained in Tahrir Square on Monday, according to media reports.

The data calendar for Monday is thin, with consumer-credit data for December due at 3 p.m. Eastern time.

Shares of biomedical testing group Beckman Coulter Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!bec/quotes/nls/bec (BEC 75.17, +2.22, +3.04%)  jumped 10% in premarket trade after diversified manufacturing and technology company Danaher Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!dhr/quotes/nls/dhr (DHR 47.98, +0.53, +1.12%)  said it would pay $83.50 a share for Beckman, or $6.8 billion in cash, including debt. That represents a 45% premium to Beckman’s closing price on Dec. 9 before rumors of the deal were in the market.

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!chk/quotes/nls/chk (CHK 30.06, -0.41, -1.35%)  rose 2% in premarket trade after the firm said it would sell its Fayetteville shale assets and equity stakes in Frac Tech Holdings LLC and Chaparral Energy for around $5 billion.

Meanwhile, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.a/quotes/nls/brk.a (BRK.A 124,890, +290.00, +0.23%)   /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.b/quotes/nls/brk.b (BRK.B 83.17, +0.15, +0.18%)  said it plans to buy the rest of the remaining 19.9% of Wesco Financial Corp. /quotes/comstock/14*!wsc/quotes/nls/wsc (WSC 380.67, +0.50, +0.13%)  shares it doesn’t already own.

On the earnings side, shares of Hasbro Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!has/quotes/nls/has (HAS 44.82, +0.24, +0.54%)  could be active after the group said it earned 99 cents a share in the fourth quarter, compared to $1.09 a share in the same period a year ago. Revenue fell to $1.28 billion from $1.38 billion.

Loews Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!l/quotes/nls/l (L 41.40, +0.12, +0.29%)  said it earned $1.12 a share in the fourth quarter compared to 94 cents a share in the same period a year ago.

AOL Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!aol/quotes/nls/aol (AOL 21.94, -0.30, -1.35%)  signed a definitive deal to buy news website The Huffington Post for $315 million. The deal has already been approved by the boards of the two companies. See AOL to buy The Huffington Post.

In Europe, stock markets posted gains. Shares of Nokia Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!nok/quotes/nls/nok (NOK 11.06, -0.13, -1.16%)  rose on reports of a planned management shake-up.

In Asia, a weak yen boosted stocks in Tokyo, while Hong Kong shares fell, led by energy stocks. Europe Markets. | Asia Markets.

Crude oil for March delivery rose 37 cents to $89.40 a barrel, while gold for April delivery gained $2.50 to $1,351.50 an ounce.

The dollar was little changed against most other major currencies.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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