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Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Fiscal Summit

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures rise as the markets awaited the initial meeting between the White House and congressional leaders for fiscal cliff discussions.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 10 points, or 25.62 points above fair value, at 12,532. Futures for the S&P 500 were up more than 2 points, or 3.32 points above fair value, at 1353. Futures for the Nasdaq were up by 7.50 points, or 6.69 points above fair value, at 2529.

"I doubt we'll see anything concrete for quite a while," said Stephen Guilfoyle, U.S. economist at Meridian Equity Partners, of the budget negotiations. "I am certain that both sides will come out and say something positive because that's their job. They're going to make their constituents think they're working for them, and they're trying to make the press and the markets believe that things are moving in the right direction, so you'll probably hear some positive headlines."

"The market wants to move, so the market is going to look at every little headline, every little snippet, every little gaffe, they're going to magnify those, and I think they will react in kind," said Guilfoyle.

President Barack Obama on Friday will meet with both Democrat and Republican leaders at the White House for preliminary talks about how to prevent the U.S. from falling over the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and tax increases of about $600 billion, set to hit on Jan. 1.

Earlier this week, the president again stressed his commitment to ending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans during a press conference. The president's firm stance sets the stage for a tough battle with Republicans toward compromise on the next federal budget.

Stocks have been on a downward slide this week as investors worried about the U.S.'s inability to avoid the fiscal cliff, which could push the country into recession.

On Thursday, stocks fell after the latest data on the employment picture and manufacturing activity disappointed investors.

The Federal Reserve is expected to say at 9:15 a.m. EST Friday that industrial production rose 0.2% in October after increasing by 0.4% in September, and to report capacity utilization levels of 78.3%, similar to the previous month.

The European markets were also weak Friday. The FTSE 100 in London was down by 0.67%, while the DAX in Germany was off 0.48%.

On Friday, Greece looked to have managed to avoid defaulting on Treasury bills after raising enough proceeds through bond auctions this week, though it still remains in urgent need of bailout money.

Eurozone finance ministers are expected to convene next Tuesday to discuss unlocking more financial aid for the country.

"I don't know how going forward they're [Greece is] going to do anything other than beg for these loans that they need from the Troika," said Guilfoyle. "Now, should we go that route? I don't know. I think the Troika needs to cut the official sector debt, but they should cut the official sector debt the way they gave their private sector the hair cut. So if the official sector were to take a hair cut, they could really help Greece out. The official sector has owed 70% of all the money that Greece owes."

Japan's Nikkei average finished higher by 2.2% Friday as monetary stimulus hopes continued to prevail. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose by 0.24%, with investors staying cautious amid a lack of clarity about the policies that could arise from China's big leadership change.

Gold for December delivery was down $3.90 at $1,709.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while January crude oil contracts were up 26 cents at $86.13.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 4/32, diluting the yield to 1.581%. The dollar was up 0.13%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

In corporate news, Foot Locker (FL), the athletic footwear and apparel retailer, reported better-than-expected third-quarter results, with earnings per share of 63 cents on revenue of $1.524 billion as comparable-store sales jumped 10.2%.

Analysts were calling for earnings of 54 cents a share in the October-ended period on revenue of $1.47 billion.

Shares were popping more than 5%.

Penn National Gaming (PENN) will be split into a gaming-based real estate investment trust and a gaming operator, both publicly traded.

Shares were surging more than 41%.

J.M. Smucker (SJM) raised its full-year guidance to earnings of $5.12 to $5.22 a share from $5 to $5.10 a share, saying that the branded food products company is "well-poised" for the holiday season and another year of growth.

The company posted in-line fiscal second-quarter results, with earnings coming in at $1.45 a share on revenue of $1.63 billion.

Shares were trading sideways.

Dell (DELL), the PC maker, came up short Thursday in its latest quarter and gave a lackluster outlook.

Dell posted third-quarter non-GAAP profit of $679 million, or 39 cents a share, on revenue of $13.72 billion, below analysts' expectations of earnings of 40 cents a share on revenue of $13.89 billion.

Dell said it expects a "challenging macro-economic environment" to continue into the fourth quarter and forecast sequential revenue growth of 2%-5% for the January-ending period, implying revenue of $13.99 billion to $14.41 billion. Analysts forecast revenue of $14.48 billion in the quarter. For the full year, Dell stuck to its forecast for non-GAAP earnings of at least $1.70 a share, below the analysts' estimate of $1.73 a share.

Shares were falling more than 2%.

Sears Holdings (SHLD) , the department store operator, posted a quarterly loss Thursday of $498 million, or $4.70 a share, on revenue of $8.86 billion, wider than its year-earlier loss of $421 million, or $3.95 a share, on revenue of $9.41 billion.

Shares were down more than 5%.

Gap (GPS) hiked its full-year earnings outlook after reporting a jump in third-quarter profit and increase in Gap North America same-store sales.

Shares were jumping more than 4%.

Schiff Nutrition International (SHF) received a buyout bid Thursday of $1.4 billion from Reckitt Benckiser.

The bid of $42 a share tops a bid of $34 a share that Schiff, the vitamin maker, received from Bayer on Oct. 30.

Shares were soaring by more than 28%.

Google (GOOG) has held talks with Dish Network (DISH) in recent weeks to partner on a new wireless service that would rival the networks of wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless, according to people familiar with the discussions, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The talks between Dish and Google aren't advanced and could amount to nothing, one of the people told the newspaper.

Google shares were up 0.42% and Dish shares were rising more than 1%.

Starbucks (SBUX) on Thursday announced that its board approved an authorization to repurchase an additional 25 million common shares, which comes on top of the 12.1 million shares left on the coffee giant's previous buyback.

Shares were rising incrementally.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

Stock quotes in this article: ^DJI, ^GSPC, ^IXIC, FL, PENN, SJM, DELL, SHLD, GPS, SHF, GOOG, DISH, SBUX 

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