MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Monday, March 28, 2011

Indications: U.S. futures edge up along with spending

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By Kate Gibson and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures were pointing to a slightly higher start for Wall Street Monday, as investors turned their attention to a heavy week of economic data and to crude prices after Libyan rebels took control of key oil towns over the weekend.

Stock-index futures added a sliver to already light gains after economic data showed a rise in consumer spending and incomes in February, with purchases up 0.7% and income up 0.3%.

“Today’s data specifically did not capture much of the energy-price spike in late February,” noted Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,187, +17.00, +0.14%)  rose 12 points to 12,182, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,310, 0.00, 0.00%)  gained 1.3 points to 1,311.3.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,309, -8.00, -0.35%)  added 6.75 points to 2,323.75.

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On Friday, U.S. stocks climbed for a third session, helped by the technology sector and upbeat economic-growth data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,242, +21.23, +0.17%)  gained 3.1% last week.

Observers said geopolitical news is taking a back seat to a heavy slate of U.S. economic data this week. Still ahead for Monday, pending home sales for February are due at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Later in the day, Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will speak at the University of South Carolina.

The week will finish with nonfarm payrolls and the ISM manufacturing index, both due for release on Friday.

“For the moment, the market is focusing on the economy,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners Inc. “The market continues to defy the geopolitical concerns and the European debt crisis along with the situation in Japan.”

“I think part of that probably comes at the expense of the bond market. A lot of the money coming out of bonds is flowing into equities now,” said Cardillo.

Shares of Eastman Kodak Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!ek/quotes/nls/ek (EK 3.77, +0.37, +10.85%)  jumped 14% in premarket trading. On Friday, the U.S. International Trade Commission said it will review a patent decision that ruled Apple Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 352.62, +1.08, +0.31%)  and Research In Motion Ltd. /quotes/comstock/15*!rimm/quotes/nls/rimm (RIMM 56.38, -0.51, -0.90%)  didn’t infringe Kodak’s digital-camera patents.

Alcatel-Lucent SA’s /quotes/comstock/13*!alu/quotes/nls/alu (ALU 5.77, +0.43, +7.96%)   /quotes/comstock/24s!e:alu (FR:ALU 4.09, +0.30, +7.92%)  shares rose 7.1% before the bell. Goldman Sachs upgraded the telecom-equipment maker to buy from neutral.

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Radiation levels in the water around Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant spiked over the weekend, setting back plans to get the plant under control. WSJ's Mariko Sanchanta and Yumiko Ono discuss.

Goldman also lifted its rating on mobile-phone maker Nokia Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!nok/quotes/nls/nok (NOK 8.70, +0.35, +4.19%)   /quotes/comstock/64h!e3:o-nok1v-eur (FI:NOK1V 6.19, +0.22, +3.60%)  to buy from neutral, saying the company is now in a period of “maximum uncertainty, creating a long-term opportunity for value investors.” The analysts also said the market was being too pessimistic over Nokia’s recent joint venture with Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 25.62, 0.00, 0.00%) . Shares of Nokia rose 3.8% in premarket trading.

U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!azn/quotes/nls/azn (AZN 46.05, -0.09, -0.20%)   /quotes/comstock/23s!a:azn (UK:AZN 2,873, -1.50, -0.05%)  could be active after the company lifted its earnings-per-share guidance for 2011 due to a lower effective tax rate as a result of a tax arrangement reached by U.S. and U.K. authorities. The company said core earnings are now seen in the range of $6.90 to $7.20 a share, up from the previously projected $6.45 to $6.75 a share.

European stocks traded mostly higher, though shares of Philips Electronics NV /quotes/comstock/24s!e:phia (NL:PHIA 22.18, -0.40, -1.77%)   /quotes/comstock/13*!phg/quotes/nls/phg (PHG 31.21, -0.61, -1.91%)  stumbled after the company warned of losses for its television unit.

Asian markets were broadly weaker. In Tokyo, the Nikkei Stock Average /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 (JP:NI225 9,479, -57.60, -0.60%)  pared losses and closed slightly lower as efforts to stabilize the struggling Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were hampered by high levels of radiation.

Crude oil for May delivery /quotes/comstock/21n!f:cl\k11 (CLK11 104.65, -0.75, -0.71%)  fell $1.31 to $104.09 a barrel in Globex electronic trading. Over the weekend, rebel forces in Libya regained control of key oil towns, helping to reassure markets that crude exports could see a fast restart if Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime collapses.

Gold for May delivery (GCK11 1,431, -0.10, -0.0070%)  dropped $13.20 to $1,413 an ounce.

The U.S. dollar was higher against the Japanese yen at ¥81.71 but down slightly against the euro at $1.4048.

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York. Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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