- Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures point to a flat start

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By Barbara Kollmeyer and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures wavered, indicating a flat start for Wall Street Tuesday, reflecting some consolidation after a three-session winning streak.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!dy11m (DJM11 11,952, -8.00, -0.07%)   rose 5 points to 11,968, while futures for the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,289, +0.70, +0.05%)   fell 1 point to 1,292.1. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,256, +2.75, +0.12%)   index rose 5.25 points to 2,259.75.

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On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,019, -17.90, -0.15%)   rose 1.5% to close above 12,000 for the first time since Japan’s March 11 earthquake. The rally got a boost from corporate deals, such as AT&T Inc.’s /quotes/comstock/13*!t/quotes/nls/t (T 28.10, -0.16, -0.57%)  planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG /quotes/comstock/11e!fdte (DE:DTE 10.79, +0.19, +1.75%) .

Also on Monday, the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21z!i1:in\x (SPX 1,294, -4.61, -0.36%)  rose 1.5%, while the Nasdaq Composite /quotes/comstock/10y!i:comp (COMP 2,684, -8.22, -0.31%)  gained 1.83%.

Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank, said consolidation should be expected after Monday’s merger-fueled gains.

“But I think the main theme is [the] end of the quarter, which means that we will have some tendency to try higher in the S&P and stock market overall in order to sustain not-so-big losses for the first quarter,” Jakobsen said. “It’s the usual accounting revaluation stories. Some titles will be changed, some sold, but there is always good momentum going into the quarter-end.”

Worries surrounding Japan’s nuclear crisis and unrest in the Middle East also appeared to have taken a back seat in investors’ minds.

“The market is looking upon these situations as contained â€" no deterioration is good news, although the level of stress, of course, is present,” he said. “From a 10,000-feet perspective, the market has taken a lot of beating, but still has sustained good valuations, indicating the wall of money is still what drives the markets, amid an outlook for continued low interest rates.”

The economic calendar is fairly light, with home prices from the Federal Housing Finance Agency due for release at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Buffett: Deals wanted

Warren Buffett said he is ready to make more acquisitions in Korea, the U.S. or the U.K., and he said "the bigger the better."

Shares of Dollar General Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!dg/quotes/nls/dg (DG 30.84, +0.46, +1.51%) rose in preopen trade after the retailer reported that its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled to 64 cents a share and forecast 2011 earnings of $2.20 to $2.30 a share. Read more about Dollar General’s results.  

Walgreen Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!wag/quotes/nls/wag (WAG 39.21, -2.76, -6.58%)  said second-quarter earnings came in at 80 cents a share, meeting the consensus estimate in a survey by FactSet Research. Read about Walgreen’s results.

Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!dtg/quotes/nls/dtg (DTG 59.26, +1.77, +3.08%)  could see action in its shares. The company lifted its 2011 profit guidance, citing lower costs for its fleet of autos and increased confidence about summer rentals.

Shares of Research In Motion Ltd. /quotes/comstock/15*!rimm/quotes/nls/rimm (RIMM 62.41, +0.24, +0.39%)  could be in focus after the company said its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will be available beginning April 19 at all Best Buy Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!bby/quotes/nls/bby (BBY 31.42, -0.48, -1.50%)  stores and Best Buy Mobile stores in the U.S. The tablet will also be available in Canada. The PlayBook will come in three models, starting with 16GB of storage for $499.

In Europe, shares turned mixed after showing broad-based gains for most of the session. Investors returned to the market in Tokyo after Monday’s holiday and pushed the Nikkei Stock Average /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 (JP:NI225 9,608, +401.57, +4.36%) 4.4% higher.

Crude-oil futures for April delivery /quotes/comstock/21n!f:cl\j11 (CLJ11 104.53, 0.00, 0.00%) , which expire at the end of trading Tuesday, fell 72 cents to $101.61 in Nymex electronic trading. Futures for April gold /quotes/comstock/21e!f:gc\j11 (GCJ11 1,429, 0.00, 0.00%)  declined $4.50 to $1,421.90 an ounce.

The dollar was slightly weaker against the Japanese yen and the euro.

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

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