Stock Futures Climb with Chinese Growth Data


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were rising Tuesday along with global markets as better-than-expected Chinese economic data assured investors the world's fastest-growing economy is for now safe from European debt woes.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 93 points at 12,483. Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 11 points, or 15 points above fair value, at 1,300. Futures for the Nasdaq were gaining 20 points, or 25 points above fair value, to 2,394.

Chinese gross domestic product growth slowed to a rate of 8.9% in the fourth quarter, its slowest growth in 10 quarters, but better than the 8.7% expected by economists, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. The Chinese statistics bureau also reported that industrial production increased 12.8% in December from a year earlier, a sign that China may yet avoid a hard landing provoked by declining demand from Europe.

Meanwhile, Greek citizens met in the capital Tuesday to protest European Union and International Monetary Fund interference in the country as the Mediterranean nation moved one step closer to a disorderly default. Greeks protested austerity measures as officials met in a race-against-the-clock meeting to pull together an agreement for a second bailout package before a bond payment comes due in late March.

Germany's DAX was up 1.7% while London's FTSE was up 0.7%. Japan's Nikkei Average settled 1.1% higher and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 3.2%.


On the U.S. economic calendar, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that manufacturing in the region rose more than forecast to its highest level since April. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey improved to 13.5 in January from a revised 8.2 in December for a third-straight increase after hovering in negative territory June through October. Economists had expected the measure to rise to 10.5, according to Thomson Reuters.

"The indicator was better than expected which continues the recent trend of generally improving macroeconomic indicators," Dan Greenhaus, chief gloal strategist at BTIG, wrote in a note. "Perhaps most importantly, companies in the region remain more optimistic about the future. While this isn't a foolproof indicator, it is an important gauge of expectations and right now, there is a better tone to sentiment and data."

Citigroup ( C) kicked of earnings reports this week with a big miss. The lender posted a fourth quarter profit of 38 cents a share on revenue of $17.2 billion, falling well short of the average estimate of 50 cents a share. Wells Fargo ( WFC), on the other hand, reported quarterly results a little better than forecast with earnings of 73 cents a share on revenue that climbed 20% from last quarter to $8.1 billion. Analysts expected profits of 72 cents a share, according to Zacks.com.

In other corporate news, Carnival's ( CCL) cruise liner Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy Jan. 13, killing six people, while another 29 passengers remain missing. The ship began taking on water Friday when the vessel deviated from its programed course and struck a reef. The wreck may cost the cruise line-operator's insurers as much as $800 million, according to analysts at Numis Securities. Carnival shares tumbled 23% on Monday in London when the U.S. market remained closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Carnival's insurers include Assicurazioni Generali, based in Treste, Italy, London-based RSA Insurance Group, XL Group ( XL) and Hannover Re.

Royal Bank of Scotland ( RBS) said Tuesday it would sell its aircraft leasing division -- RBS Aviation Capital -- to Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Financial for $7.3 billion. RBS Aviation owns 206 aircraft and has commitments to buy another 87 by 2015, commitments the Japanese company takes on with the purchase, according to The Associated Press.

Ista Pharmaceuticals ( ISTA) said it has received a revised non-binding proposal from Valeant Pharmaceuticals ( VRX) and will consider the updated proposal. Valeant raised its offer to $7.50 a share in cash from $6.50 and has set a target price of $8.50 a share in cash.

February oil futures were rising $2 to $100.70 a barrel, while February gold futures were climbing $33.40 to $1,664.20 an ounce.

The dollar index was dropping 0.8%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling 13/32, diluting the yield to 1.905%.

-- Written by Kaitlyn Kiernan in New York.

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