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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures edge up as G-20 gets under way

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By Kate Gibson and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures tilted higher Friday as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the central bank’s $600 billion bond-buying program while central bankers and finance ministers gathered in Paris for a Group of 20 meeting.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 12,375, 0.00, 0.00%)  gained 8 points to 12,296, while those for the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,342, +4.60, +0.34%)  climbed almost 1 point to 1,338.4.

Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,395, +1.50, +0.06%)  rose 2.5 points to 2,396.

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“As we have seen so often in recent sessions, this weakness still looks to be a buying opportunity for most â€" yesterday saw fresh-recovery highs set again by the [Dow] index,” said Ben Critchley, sales trader at IG Index. “With nothing major on the economic calendar today, we may see a quiet finish to another positive week.”

U.S. stocks added to multiyear highs Thursday in the wake of economic data and corporate results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,391, +73.11, +0.59%)  closed up 29.27 points, or 0.24%, at 12,318.14, the highest close since June 2008. The S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21z!i1:in\x (SPX 1,343, +2.58, +0.19%)  marked its highest close since June 2008 as well.

On Friday, markets were cautious ahead of a long weekend. U.S. markets will be closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

Increasing unrest in the Middle East was also making a few wary, with more violence likely in Bahrain’s capital Friday as protesters held funerals for several people killed in a crackdown on antigovernment demonstrations.

Among shares on the move, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!brcd/quotes/nls/brcd (BRCD 6.38, +0.36, +5.98%)  jumped in premarket trade. After the closing bell Thursday, Brocade reported adjusted first-quarter profit that was ahead of Wall Street forecasts.

Shares of Ford Motor Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!f/quotes/nls/f (F 15.77, -0.20, -1.25%)  could be in focus after the auto giant said it intends to set up a joint venture with Russian automotive group Sollers OJSC for producing and distributing Ford vehicles in Russia.

Asia's week ahead

Next week, Thailand will release its fourth-quarter gross domestic product data, Hong Kong is set to report a budget surplus for the current fiscal year, and we'll see the latest report on Japan's core consumer prices. MarketWatch's Lisa Twaronite reports.

European stocks were mostly lower Friday after a five-session winning streak, with losses for miners and car makers weighing on the main bourses. Miners came under some pressure after China’s central bank again hiked its reserve-requirement ratio for banks.

Stocks fell in Shanghai for the first time in seven sessions amid investor nervousness about potential tightening measures in China, where officials tend to announce policy measures ahead of weekends and public holidays.

Among major commodities, crude-oil futures for April delivery rose 50 cents to $86.77 a barrel, while gold futures for April delivery were up 20 cents at $1,385.2 an ounce.

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

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