Stock Futures Rise on Improving Global Outlook
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were rising Friday ahead of reports that are expected to point to improvement in the economy.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were gaining 12 points, or 24.3 points above fair value, at 12,986. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 2.1 points, or 3.4 points above fair value, at 1365. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 2.5 points, or 8.6 points above fair value, at 2603.
Stocks closed up Thursday as data showed surprising resilience in German business confidence and further stabilization in U.S. jobless claims.
The final University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters index of consumer sentiment for February will be released at 9:55 a.m. EST. It's expected to show a reading of 72.8, up from 72.5 previously.
At 10 a.m., the Census Bureau's report on new-home sales for January is expected to show sales climbing to a nine-month high at a 315,000 annual rate after falling to a 307,000 annual clip in December.
"We see no reason to argue too vehemently with that consensus," said Dennis Gartman, the notable investor and publisher of The Gartman Letter. "It seems quite reasonable to us, but if we must argue we'll argue that the consensus is a bit low and that 330 thousand would be our 'guess.'"
Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, is looking for a big upside surprise from new home sales, estimating the number at 350,000. He cited the strong performance of the homebuilder stocks over the past few months, saying it "suggests something is stirring in the new home market," as well as the weather.
Germany's DAX was rising 0.48% while London's FTSE was down 0.03% as the Office for National Statistics confirmed that the United Kingdom's economy shrank 0.2% the fourth quarter due to a fall in business investment. Full-year expansion was also downwardly revised to 0.8%. Japan's Nikkei Average settled up 0.54% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up 0.12%.
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In corporate news, insurance giant AIG(AIG) reported fourth-quarter net income of $19.8 billion, boosted by a gain of $17.7 billion related to the release of a deferred tax asset valuation allowance. Operating profit in the quarter was 82 cents a share. Analysts were looking for 63 cents. Shares were popping 6% to $29.67 in premarket trading. J.C. Penney (JCP) , the department store giant, said that it lost $87 million, or $0.41 a share, in fourth quarter profits, compared to a gain of $271 million a year earlier. Adjusted income fell to $45 million, or $0.21 a share. Analysts on average were looking for earnings of 68 cents a share on revenue of $5.5 billion. The retailer has jumped by $1.4 billion in value after new CEO Ron Johnson outlined a turnaround plan that kicked off on Feb. 1. Shares were down 0.3% to $41.80 before the opening bell.