MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Friday, March 25, 2011

Indications: Oracle, RIM, tech stocks in focus as futures rise

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By Simon Kennedy, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures rose on Friday, with technology stocks in the spotlight after a mixed set of results from Oracle Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,141, +25.00, +0.21%)  rose 46 points to 12,162 and Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,308, +3.20, +0.25%)  added 5.30 points to 1,310.50.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,315, +6.75, +0.29%)  were up 10.25 points at 2,318.75.

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The move for futures came after strong gains for Wall Street on Thursday as U.S. markets posted their fifth gain in six sessions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,171, +84.54, +0.70%)  closed up nearly 85 points.

Oracle /quotes/comstock/15*!orcl/quotes/nls/orcl (ORCL 32.14, +0.73, +2.32%)  was one of the early gainers Friday, climbing 4% in premarket trading after rising software sales to new corporate customers helped it beat earnings expectations. Read more on Oracle's results.

Mobile-device maker Research In Motion /quotes/comstock/15*!rimm/quotes/nls/rimm (RIMM 64.09, +1.97, +3.17%) , on the other hand, slumped 12% in premarket action after its guidance for the current quarter fell short of expectations.

The group said its guidance reflects a greater proportion of lower-end devices in its sales mix as well as additional spending related to its BlackBerry PlayBook, a tablet computer intended to compete with Apple Inc.’s /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 344.97, +5.78, +1.70%)  iPad. Read about Research In Motion's disappointing outlook.

Shares in Apple were up 0.9% in premarket trading.

Nymex oil prices held steady at well over $105 a barrel as Libya and the Mideast remained in focus, with Nato agreeing to take over responsibility for enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone.

Crude for May delivery rose 7 cents to $105.67 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex.

“Rising oil prices are a tax on developed world economies and an inflationary threat in developing markets, but they do not necessitate recession,” said Philip Isherwood, an equity strategist at Evolution Securities.

Isherwood said in an email that the “ultimate fear” is a return to the situation in the 1970s, where oil prices tripled between 1973 and 1974.

While few commentators currently expect such a sharp rise in oil, if the upward trend in year-on-year prices continues commodity stocks should outperform, while technology stocks should be around the middle of the pack, while health-care stocks, utilities and banks would all likely be among the weaker performers, Isherwood said.

On the economic front Friday, the final revision to fourth-quarter gross domestic product will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, followed after the open by the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey for March.

The dollar held broadly steady against the euro and edged up 0.3% against the yen to ¥81.243.

Among other stocks in focus, Accenture PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!acn/quotes/nls/acn (ACN 51.96, +1.29, +2.55%)  late Thursday reported fiscal second-quarter earnings of 75 cents a share, beating the consensus forecast of 71 cents.

International markets were also mostly higher Friday. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed up 1.1% and in Europe, Germany’s DAX 30 index /quotes/comstock/30p!dax (DX:DAX 6,932, -1.89, -0.03%)  rose 0.4% in late morning trading.

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London.

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