Monday, March 1, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures maintain gains after data

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software Alert Email Print

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

Corrects gold futures fall.

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures rose Monday as a slate of merger activity, including the sale of American International Group's Asia operations, greeted the new month.

S&P 500 futures rose 3.4 points to 1,106.80 and Nasdaq 100 futures added 6.75 points to 1,825.20. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 34 points.

The S&P 500 lost 0.4% last week but gained 2.9% for the month.

Indications of a Franco-German rescue for Greece as well as the merger news helped overseas markets rise, with the German DAX rising 1.1% and the Nikkei 225 up 0.5% in Tokyo.

Key economic reports also are due Monday, with the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for February due at 10 a.m. Eastern. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect the gauge to still show growth but fall from January's 58.4% level.

Also out Monday is data on personal income and construction spending.


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But M&A also was in the spotlight. Prudential /quotes/comstock/13*!puk/quotes/nls/puk (PUK 18.50, +0.22, +1.20%) , unrelated to the American insurer of the same name, said it's going to buy the Asian operations of American International Group /quotes/comstock/13*!aig/quotes/nls/aig (AIG 24.77, -2.74, -9.96%) for $35.5 billion in cash and stock. Prudential shares tumbled 14.7% in premarket trade while AIG rose 12%. See related story.

Merck KGaA, unrelated to the U.S. drugmaker of the same name, said it's going to buy biotech Millipore /quotes/comstock/13*!mil/quotes/nls/mil (MIL 94.41, +0.36, +0.38%) for $7.2 billion, lifting Millipore shares by 11%. See Merck KGaA story.

MSCI /quotes/comstock/13*!mxb/quotes/nls/mxb (MXB 29.98, +0.14, +0.47%) said it's going to buy RiskMetrics /quotes/comstock/13*!risk/quotes/nls/risk (RISK 18.63, -0.06, -0.32%) for $1.55 billion, or $21.75 a share, in cash and stock, sending RiskMetric shares up 12.7%.

Meanwhile, Japan's Astellas Pharma offered $3.5 billion, or $52 a share, in cash in a hostile bid for OSI Pharmaceuticals /quotes/comstock/15*!osip/quotes/nls/osip (OSIP 37.02, +0.45, +1.23%) , which jumped 47% in premarket trade.

HSBC Holdings /quotes/comstock/13*!hbc/quotes/nls/hbc (HBC 54.92, +0.03, +0.05%) fell nearly 8% after it reported a 2% rise in its annual profit on a drop in taxes, missing analyst estimates, with the group's Asia ex-Hong Kong business lagging. See HSBC story.

Berkshire Hathaway /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.b/quotes/nls/brk.b (BRK.B 80.13, +0.73, +0.92%) reported that the conglomerate's book value rose 19.8% to $84,487 a share and net income grew 61% as Warren Buffett took aim at big-bank executives.

Copper futures were particularly strong as Chile's earthquake raised fears over supplies, while gold futures were down $5 an ounce.

The British pound fell over 2%, below the $1.50 level and then $1.49 as well as the Prudential deal raised concerns in the market that it would need to sell sterling to buy U.S. dollars, with election jitters also weighing. See currencies.

Also of note is that Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman and an architect of President Obama's proposal to restrict bank trading, is due to deliver a speech in San Francisco.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.

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