Stock Futures Cling to Gains


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A mixed bag of economic data trimmed stock future gains early Thursday but Wall Street still looks to be on track to open in the green.

The U.S. markets were getting an early lift from Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen's speech Wednesday in New York. Yellen indicated she supports an extended period of low interest rates in the United States.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 7 points, or 5.6 points above fair value, at 12,751. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.7 points, or 0.3 points above fair value, at 1365. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 4.3 points, or 4.3 points above fair value, at 2709.

During her speech in New York, Yellen told her audience that "I consider a highly accommodative policy stance to be appropriate in present circumstances."

U.S. stocks snapped a five-day losing streak on Wednesday with buyers out in force as anxiety over the eurozone eased and Alcoa's ( AA) profit surprise lifted hopes for a better-than-expected first-quarter reporting season.

In economic news today, the U.S. trade balance improved with less red ink on the deficit. The Department of Commerce reported a February trade deficit of $46.03 billion, down from $52.52 billion in January.

The Labor Department reported unchanged March producer prices, which was much lower than expected. They rose 0.4% in February. However, the core price index, which excludes the volatile food and energy components, rose a higher than expected 0.3% in March compared with a gain of 0.2% in February.

Initial jobless claims had a bigger than anticipated jump to 380,000, up 13,000 from last week. The four-week moving average of initial claims rose 4,250 to 368,500. The Labor Department reported continuing claims for the week ended March 31 of 3.251 million, down from 3.349 million the previous week.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei Average rose 0.7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index settles higher by 0.9%, snapping a three-day losing streak on the back of speculation that China could loosen monetary policy after the release Friday of data that is expected to show that its economy grew at its slowest pace since 2009.

London's FTSE was down less than 1% and Germany's DAX was up 0.5%.


Wall Street will also be looking ahead to a tech bellwether's earnings report after the closing bell. Google ( GOOG) has sat out this year's rally in the broad market after reporting a rare earnings and revenue miss in January and is facing concerns about growing competition from Apple ( AAPL) and Facebook. The Internet search giant is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $9.65 a share on revenue of $8.14 billion.

"I think people are focusing on Google," says Adrian Day, president of Adrian Day Asset Management. "I would think a miss from Google, a big name like that, a company with favorable sentiment, that would be a negative... I think the market is really on tenterhooks right now and very, very nervous and any kind of miss on a company like Google would hurt the market."

May oil futures were up 45 cents to $103.15 a barrel, while June gold futures were giving up $2.70 at $1,657.60 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 1/32, lowering the yield to 2%, while the U.S. dollar index fell 0.3%.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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

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