Stock Futures Rise as Europe Boosts Bailout Funds


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were signaling a rebound Friday as eurozone finance leaders agreed to ramp up the size of the eurozone's rescue funds.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were higher by 43 points, or 44.2 points above fair value, at 13,121. Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 5.1 points, or 5.1 points above fair value, at 1403. Futures for the Nasdaq were adding 9.3 points, or 9.8 points above fair value, at 2768.

With the first quarter coming to an end, the stock market is shaping up for what could be its best first quarter since 1998. The S&P 500, which has increased about 12% so far this quarter, has only seen double-digit first-quarter gains 11 times since 1928.

U.S. stocks closed Thursday's trading session mixed amid weak European markets and a miss on weekly initial jobless claims.

Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to strengthen the single-currency bloc's debt crisis firewall to about €800 billion ($1.1 trillion), said Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter, before a meeting of European finance ministers in Copenhagen. While the eurozone seeks to protect Italy and Spain from the pains of the debt crisis, eurozone leaders have agreed on the lowest figure accepted by nations including Germany, Finland and the Netherlands, where the public has frowned upon additional funding for bailouts.

About €500 billion of that money would come from the permanent, European Stability Mechanism when it becomes available in July, and €200 billion is coming through the European Financial Stability Facility. A further €53 billion will be derived from bilateral loans that have been made available to Greece and €49 billion from the European Financial Stability Mechanism.

It was also announced Friday that Spain will be cutting ministry spending by 16%.

London's FTSE was spiking 0.6% and Germany's DAX was gaining 1%. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei Average closed down 0.3% on Friday and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index finished lower by 0.3%.

In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department reported spending among American consumers rose 0.8% in February, exceeding the estimated 0.6% rise, and above the 0.4% increase the prior month. The February increase in spending was the largest since July.

Personal income rose 0.2%, compared with the increase of 0.4% that economists were expecting, and after rising 0.2% in January.

The Chicago Fed's purchasing managers index is expected to come in at 63 in March, down from the previous month's read of 64.

The last day of the week sees another read on the consumer front, this time from the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey. The survey is forecast to read at 74.7 in March, a touch higher than 74.3 in February.


In corporate news, Research In Motion ( RIMM), the troubled BlackBerry maker, missed fourth-quarter analysts' expectations, said it would no longer provide quarterly forecasts, and announced former co-CEO Jim Balsillie is resigning from the board. RIM posted fiscal fourth-quarter non-GAAP earnings of 80 cents a share on revenue of $4.2 billion. Analysts were expecting profit of 81 cents a share on revenue of $4.5 billion.

Shares were down 1.2% in premarket trading.

Dunkin' Brands Group ( DNKN), the owner of Dukin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, announced a public offering of 26.4 million shares of common stock at $29.50 a share. There will also be a 30-day option to sell an additional 3.96 million shares from some of the stockholders selling. Shares were down 0.7% to $29.85.

A labor advocacy group released the findings of an audit of working conditions at Foxconn, a major Apple ( AAPL) supplier in China. Apple CEO Tim Cook visited a Foxconn facility in China on Thursday, and Foxconn reportedly has promised to make improvements, but it's not clear how this may or may not impact the company's relationship with Apple, which is part of the Fair Labor Association that conducted the audit.

May oil futures were rising 45 cents to $103.23 a barrel, while June gold futures were adding $10.60 to $1,665.50 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was dipping 1/32, pushing the yield to 2.2%, while the U.S. dollar index was down 0.4% to $78.87.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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

If you liked this article you might like

Forecast for S&P 500, Dow Industrials Remains Bullish, These Charts Show

Forecast for S&P 500, Dow Industrials Remains Bullish, These Charts Show

Dow 20,000! It Should Mean Nothing to Investors, but Then Again...

Dow 20,000! It Should Mean Nothing to Investors, but Then Again...

Tradebird Investors Are Bullish on U.S. Stocks but Bearish on the Euro

Tradebird Investors Are Bullish on U.S. Stocks but Bearish on the Euro

Why Home Depot and Boeing Stock Fell Tuesday

Why Home Depot and Boeing Stock Fell Tuesday