Futures rise as durables ease growth worries

NEW YORK - U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday, pointing to a higher market opening, after surprisingly strong data on durable goods orders calmed some jitters about a weakening U.S. economy.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Wed 27 Aug 2008, 8:06 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:59 AM

Futures also erased earlier losses following remarks by Atlanta Federal President Dennis Lockhart who said inflation albeit "high and worrisome" should moderate over the rest of the year and into next year. ID:nWEQ000135

Lockhart's inflation view "coupled with the durable goods report and other signs of economic activities that are better than expected...are very good for the market," said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey.

However, the gains in futures were curbed by lingering worries about the battered banking sector and crude prices rising for a third straight day.

Concerns over more bank failures put downward pressure on financial shares after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said the number of troubled U.S. banks rose 30 percent in the second quarter to its highest level in five years.

Oil prices climbed on jitters about Tropical Storm Gustav, expected to reach hurricane intensity by Thursday and possibly threatening crude and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

If Gustav were to hurt gas output to the extent as Hurricane Katrina, "that's going cause inflationary pressure," said Tom Schrader, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets in Baltimore.

S&P 500 futures were up 1.50 points and slightly above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.

Dow Jones industrial average futures advanced 12 points points and Nasdaq 100 futures edged up 0.5 points.

Not all the news pertaining to the financial sector was gloomy.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose for a third consecutive session on hopes that a possible government rescue of the two mortgage finance companies would not wipe out shareholders, traders said.

"People are buying into the notion of a bailout. There's very little on the downside" for them, said Knight's Kenny.

Lehman Brothers, which has posted $7 billion in write-downs and losses, has asked three private equity firms to remain in the bidding for its asset management arm even though it has yet to decide whether to sell it, the Financial Times reported. Lehman shares were up 1 percent before the bell.

Singapore's Temasek Holdings has received U.S. antitrust approval to raise its stake in the U.S. investment bank to as much as 14 percent, Bloomberg reported, without citing sources. Merrill shares were up 1.7 percent in premarket trading.

Turning to the pharmaceutical sector, the diabetes drug Byetta sold by Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co.

was linked to four more deaths in patients with pancreatitis, adding to two deaths announced by federal regulators last week.

Amylin shares fell more than 10 percent ahead of the bell. Lilly was not active.

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