MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Friday, April 8, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures rise as Japan worries fade

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By Simon Kennedy , MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures pointed higher Friday after investors shrugged off worries about Japan’s latest earthquake, while oil and gold prices resumed their rally.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,404, +53.00, +0.43%)  rose 43 points to 12,394, and Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,335, +6.00, +0.45%)  climbed 5.5 points to 1,334.

Futures on the Nasdaq 100 /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,338, +8.75, +0.38%)  added 6 points to 2,335.25.

Asia's week ahead

China's first-quarter GDP and other data will take the spotlight next week in Asia, as well as central-bank meetings in South Korea and Indonesia. MarketWatch's Lisa Twaronite in Tokyo looks at the week ahead.

On Thursday, U.S. markets closed lower after another earthquake shook Japan, less than a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami claimed thousands of lives. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,409, -17.26, -0.14%)  closed down 0.1%.

However, Japanese markets recovered from early losses to close higher, tossing aside any jitters caused by the overnight aftershock and benefiting from some strong retail-sector earnings reports.

The Nikkei Stock Average /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 (JP:NI225 9,768, +177.15, +1.85%)  closed up 1.8% and helped drive gains for European markets. Germany’s DAX 30 index /quotes/comstock/30p!dax (DX:DAX 7,223, +43.83, +0.61%)  rose 0.6% in midday trading.

Commodity prices continued to rally strongly. Light crude for May delivery surged $1.57 to $111.87 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex.

Gold for June delivery added $13.50 to $1,472.80 an ounce. Read more on gains for gold and silver.

“It looks as if we could be back to the days of flagging up a new record high on gold on a daily basis,” said Simon Smith, chief economist at foreign-exchange broker FXPro, in an email.

But if gold is strong, silver is “on fire,” Smith said, noting the metal is up a further 5% so far this month. He added that hopes for a U.S. budget deal look to be going down to the wire, with a government shutdown set to begin at midnight if a deal can’t be reached.

“The prospect of a government shutdown, whilst not necessarily a major dollar-negative factor, has nevertheless highlighted just how much fiscal issues are going to be an ever-more important factor for the U.S. in the coming months and years,” he said.

The dollar was having a mixed session, gaining against the yen but weakening against the euro, which rose 0.8% to $1.4415.

On the economic front, data on wholesale inventories for February will be released after Friday’s opening bell.

Among stocks to watch, shares of online travel-service provider Expedia Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!expe/quotes/nls/expe (EXPE 22.40, -0.08, -0.36%)  jumped 14% in premarket trading after the company said it will split into two by spinning off its TripAdvisor arm.

Hard-disk manufacturer Seagate Technology PLC /quotes/comstock/15*!stx/quotes/nls/stx (STX 14.69, -0.07, -0.47%)  was another advancer, climbing 5.7% before the open after saying late Thursday that it will reinstate dividend payments.

On the downside, shares of oil-exploration group Hercules Offshore Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!hero/quotes/nls/hero (HERO 6.38, +0.15, +2.41%)  dropped 9.7% in premarket trading after the company said it’s being investigated by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

/quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 DJ IND AVG JUN1 (DJM11) $ 12,404 Change +53.00 +0.43%Volume 71.00 Real time quotes /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 SP500 IDX JUN1 (SPM11) $ 1,335 Change +6.00 +0.45%Volume 2,220 Real time quotes /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 NASD 100 JUN1 (NDM11) $ 2,338 Change +8.75 +0.38%Volume 21.00 Real time quotes /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) 12,409 Change -17.26 -0.14%Volume 158.59m Real time quotes /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 NIKKEI 225 INDEX (NI225) 9,768 Change +177.15 +1.85%Volume 215,006 Real time quotes /quotes/comstock/30p!dax GERMAN SE XETRA DAX INDEX (DAX) 7,223 Change +43.83 +0.61%Volume 54.41m Real time quotes /quotes/comstock/15*!expe/quotes/nls/expe Expedia Inc (EXPE) $ 22.40 Change -0.08 -0.36%Volume 6.43m Real time quotes /quotes/comstock/15*!stx/quotes/nls/stx Seagate Technology PLC (STX) $ 14.69 Change -0.07 -0.47%Volume 6.60m Real time quotes /quotes/comstock/15*!hero/quotes/nls/hero Hercules Offshore Inc (HERO) $ 6.38 Change +0.15 +2.41%Volume 6.23m Real time quotes

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London.

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