Saturday, August 28, 2010

Indications: Futures gain after GDP, before Bernanke speech

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By Polya Lesova and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock-index futures added to gains Friday after the government's estimate of U.S. economic growth wasn't as bad as Wall Street had expected.

"The [gross-domestic-product] figure is more demoralizing than frightening. Despite $1 trillion in stimulus and a Fed funds rate at zero, the country continues to grow at a snail's pace," said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt Trading.


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Stock futures rose further after the Commerce Department reported that U.S. economic growth slowed to 1.6% in the second quarter. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a worse reading of 1.3% growth during the period. Read more about the GDP data.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 56 points to 10,023, and S&P 500 futures added 6.90 points to 1,051.7. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 13.75 points to 1,781.25.

On the deal front, meanwhile, the battle between Dell Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!dell/quotes/nls/dell (DELL 11.89, +0.14, +1.17%) and Hewlett-Packard Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!hpq/quotes/nls/hpq (HPQ 38.00, -0.22, -0.58%) to acquire data-storage provider 3Par Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!par/quotes/nls/par (PAR 32.46, +6.43, +24.70%) took yet another turn.

Dell matched H-P's offer to buy 3Par for $27 a share, or about $1.8 billion, and 3Par accepted Dell's latest bid. Shares of 3Par rallied 10% in premarket trading. Read the latest developments in the 3Par deal.

The Dow /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,151, +164.84, +1.65%) fell 0.7% Thursday, ending lower for five of the past six trading days. The blue-chip index has fallen more than 4% so far this year.

The GDP data will be followed by the University of Michigan's final reading for August consumer sentiment.

Then, at 10 a.m. Eastern, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Kansas City Fed's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The speech will focus on the economic outlook and the Fed's policy response.

"While we don't expect the chairman to brace the nation for a 'double dip,' he may warn that near-term growth could be insufficient to promote a sustained reduction in the country's 9.5% unemployment rate," said Neal Soss at Credit Suisse, in a note.

In earnings news, fine-jewelry firm Tiffany & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!tif/quotes/nls/tif (TIF 40.71, -1.33, -3.16%) reported a 19% increase in quarterly profit and said it's expecting fiscal-year earnings to come in higher than analysts' consensus estimate. Read more about Tiffany's results.

In the aerospace sector, Boeing Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!ba/quotes/nls/ba (BA 63.16, +1.84, +3.00%) announced it will once again delay the delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner jet to the middle of the first quarter of 2011, citing delays in the availability of the engine. Read more on Boeing's Dreamliner delay.

U.K. engine supplier Rolls-Royce Group PLC /quotes/comstock/23s!a:rr. (UK:RR. 555.50, -3.50, -0.63%) said it's working with Boeing to expedite delivery. Shares of Rolls-Royce dropped 1.6% in London.

Asia's week ahead

Chinese manufacturing outlook takes center stage as investors look for clues about the global economy. Australia looks to escape renewed slowdown worries. Also news from India, Indonesia and manufacturer Foxconn. MarketWatch's Chris Oliver reports.

In Spain, Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana /quotes/comstock/06x!cibla (ES:IBLA 2.56, -0.01, -0.27%) said it swung to a higher-than-expected profit in the second quarter, as international business travel rebounded. Iberia and British Airways /quotes/comstock/23s!a:bay (UK:BAY 209.80, -0.80, -0.38%) have agreed to merge.

Asia shares were mixed Friday, while in Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 251.24, +1.59, +0.64%) moved higher in afternoon trading.

British gross domestic product expanded by an upwardly revised 1.2% in the second quarter, official data showed. The previous estimate put quarterly growth at 1.1%. Read about British GDP.

In the currency markets, the dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 82.74, -0.02, -0.02%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, edged up to 82.964.

The U.S. dollar gained 0.6% to 84.92 yen, as Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told reporters that he was ready to take "decisive" action in currency markets when needed.

Authorities in Tokyo have been seeking to stem the rise of the Japanese yen, which hit a 15-year high versus the U.S. dollar earlier this week.

Oil futures fell 15 cents to $73.21 a barrel, while gold rose $3.40 to $1,241.1 an ounce in electronic trading.

Polya Lesova is MarketWatch's London bureau chief. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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