Updated from 9:27 a.m. EDT
Stock index futures improved Wednesday as a better-than-expected report on productivity lifted sentiment on Wall Street.
futures were down less than a point at 1420 and were about 1 point above fair value. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 were losing 1.3 points to 1998, but were 2 points ahead of fair value. That suggested a slightly higher open. Earlier, futures were indicating a moderate pullback at the start of trading.
The tone became more positive after the Labor Department said first-quarter nonfarm productivity rose at a 2.2% annual rate, topping the 1.5% consensus estimate and the 1.8% pace in the fourth quarter. Job cuts and reductions in hours worked helped the increase. Growth in productivity is viewed as a sign that inflation is being kept under control.
At the same time, unit labor costs were up 2.2%, a cooler figure than had been forecast and down from a 2.8% advance in the previous quarter.
Last time out, investors managed to bring equity measures higher despite assorted downbeat news from the financial space, including a big loss at
, and a fresh record for oil prices.
In the end,
Dow Jones Industrial Average
overcame early losses to rise by 51 points to 13,021, and the S&P 500 added 11 points to 1418. The
was up 19 points to 2483.
After the prior close, tech bellwether
reported coming in ahead of analyst expectations last quarter with an adjusted profit of $2.3 billion, or 38 cents a share. Sales ramped up 10.4% to $9.8 billion. Still, shares were off 1.3% in the premarket.
Meanwhile, fellow tech names
confirmed they are planning to merge their wireless broadband businesses.
The new company, to be named Clearwire, is set to receive a $3.2 billion collective investment from
Time Warner Cable
and Bright House Networks.
shares added 2% early after the entertainment conglomerate said earnings leaped 22% to $1.1 billion. Per-share income handily beat expectations.
Back on the economic docket, pending-home sales data should come out at 10 a.m. EDT, and the government's weekly crude stockpile report is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EDT.
Commodity prices were slipping. Crude oil was down 30 cents at $121.54 a barrel early on. Gold futures were off $6 to $877.70 an ounce. The U.S. dollar climbed by 0.7% against both the euro and the yen.
Treasury prices were rising. The 10-year note was up 2/32 in price to yield 3.91%, and the 30-year bond rose 11/32 in price, yielding 4.64%.
Markets abroad were mostly higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 2.5% overnight, but Nikkei 225 in Tokyo climbed 0.4%. Among European bourses, London's FTSE 100 and the Paris Cac were both tacking on 0.6%. Germany's Xetra Dax was up 0.9%.