U.S. stock futures turn up as commodities rise

U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly higher start for Wednesday, with gains in commodities helping offset slowing-growth worries that continue to hang over investors and global markets.

Wall Street nearly lost its grip on gains in the prior session and weakness continued for stocks overseas. But gains in some commodities such as crude oil and copper futures provided a floor and helped stock futures come off earlier lows.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 3 points to 9,685, while those for the S&P 500 were up 0.5 point at 1,024.70. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 fell 1.5 points to 1,733.

The main U.S. stock benchmarks survived an afternoon challenge Tuesday, managing to hold gains and break multisession losing streaks. An earlier rally lost steam in the face of consumer discretionary losses and concerns about global growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 57.14 points, or 0.6%, at 9743.62, to snap a seven-session losing streak, led by consumer discretionary stocks.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index finished up 5.48 points, or 0.5%, at 1,028.06. The Nasdaq barely eked out a gain, up 2.09 points, or 0.1%, to 2,093.88.

“Technically, the S&P rallied back up to 1,040 and couldn’t penetrate resistance, so the bears gained the upper hand. Overall, it still looks like consolidation for the week, as we look forward to earnings season providing a catalyst,” said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist with Cantor Fitzgerald.

Jim Reid, strategist with Deutsche Bank, said Tuesday’s ISM non-manufacturing data weighed on global markets overnight. “This disappointing data and also the uncertainties around what will be (or not be) disclosed around the stress test seems to have kept risk takers on the back foot overnight,” he said in a note to investors.

There is no data on the schedule for Wednesday. The dollar rose against the euro, changing hands around $1.2586. Gold futures were down $1.70 to $1,193.40 an ounce, while crude-oil futures rose 73 cents to $72.70 a barrel.
Stocks in focus include Microsoft, which is planning to lay off a small number of employees as early as this week, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The number is far smaller than the roughly 5,000 laid off last year, this source said.

State Street Corp. shares gained 7% in electronic trade. The bank said it estimates second-quarter net income at 87 cents a share, reflecting a charge and a tax benefit, on revenue of $2.3 billion. A survey of analysts by FactSet Research produced consensus estimates of profit of 93 cents a share, adjusted profit of 72 cents, and revenue of $2.16 billion.

Family Dollar Stores shares fell 5% ahead of the open. It reported fiscal third-quarter profit rose 19% to $104.4 million, or 77 cents a share, from $87.7 million, or 62 cents, a year earlier. polled by FactSet Research had expected earnings of 76 cents a share. It’s predicting EPS for the fiscal fourth quarter of between 46 cents and 51 cents, along with comparable sales growth of between 5% and 7%.

Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. said that it expects second quarter adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in a range of $70 million to $75 million, up from $20.9 million recorded in the year-ago period. The company recorded $5 million of expenses related to its proposed Hertz transaction during the quarter.

Shares of the Silicon Valley electric car maker Tesla could see more pressure after falling below their original offering price in Tuesday trading, sliding 16%. The stock debuted last week, climbing 41% in the first day of trade.
European shares were weak, returning gains of the prior session, especially among resource stocks. Poorly received results from Irish construction group CRH and U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer also pressured bourses.

Asian stocks largely declined Wednesday after weak U.S. data refueled worries about the strength of the global economic recovery. Technology shares dropped, unimpressed by Samsung Electronics’ forecast of a record operating profit, and focus fell to the massive IPO for Agricultural Bank of China, which priced in Asia at the middle (for Hong Kong) and above (for Shanghai) its indicated range.

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