Commodities lead futures higher, volume seen weak

By @ibtimes on

U.S. stock index futures rose on Friday on higher commodity prices, although volume was expected to be light until investors get a look at the first earnings reports.

The commodity gains were driven by expectations of stronger demand and in some cases threatened supply shortages. Copper rose 1.9 percent while Brent crude gained 1.5 percent as attacks on Libyan oil fields continued.

U.S.-listed shares of miner Rio Tinto Plc rose 1.6 percent to $73.58 in premarket trading.

Trading volume in stocks has been among the lowest of the year as investors look to quarterly earnings to see how corporations are performing and whether global headwinds are offsetting domestic strength. Alcoa Inc reports after the close on Monday, followed by JPMorgan Chase & Co and Google Inc next week.

We're waiting to see the early results, since there's a belief that while earnings will rise this quarter, expectations might be high, said John Brady, senior vice president at MF Global in Chicago. Brady said stocks were inexpensive on a relative value basis.

In Japan, dollar-denominated Nikkei futures advanced 2.7 percent. The country was hit by a strong aftershock on Thursday following March 11's devastating earthquake.

The impact of the (latest) quake was limited, so it shouldn't be a factor in today's trading, Brady said.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 42 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6.75 points.

U.S. budget negotiators were very close to a deal, Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, told NBC on Friday. The White House and Congress faced a midnight deadline to break a budget deadlock and avoid a government shutdown.

Data on February wholesale inventories will be released at 10 a.m., which are seen rising 1 percent.

The initial public offering of CVR Partners LP, a unit of oil refiner CVR Energy Inc , raised $307 million on Thursday, pricing units above the proposed range.

Shares of Seagate Technology Plc climbed 7.5 percent to $15.79 in premarket trading on Friday, a day after it reinstated its dividend and said it expects its third-quarter revenue and margins to come in at the higher end of its previous guidance.

Stocks closed slightly lower on Thursday on concerns about the impact of Japan's earthquake, though a drop in initial jobless claims and some strong retail sales data prevented further losses.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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