Futures rise as corporate earnings fuel optimism

  @ibtimes on February 16 2010 8:08 AM

U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday, pointing to a higher opening, as corporate earnings fueled investors' optimism on their return from a 3-day holiday.

Barclays Plc's said it had started the year well, having beaten expectations with 2009 profits of over $18.18 billion on the back of a strong performance at its investment banking unit. U.S.-traded shares of the bank gained 12.17 percent to $18.71 in premarket trading.

Kraft Foods Inc reported better-than-expected quarterly results. The company said on Monday it had just over 90 percent acceptances from Cadbury Plc shareholders in its takeover of the British confectioner.

Greece's debt issues remain in focus. Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said the country must step up efforts to cut its budget deficit and understand that other euro zone citizens are not prepared to pay for its government's mistakes.

S&P 500 futures gained 4.4 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 rose 32 points and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 10 points.

New York Federal Reserve releases at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) its Empire State Manufacturing Survey for February. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 18.0 compared with 15.92 in January.

National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo issues the February housing market index at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT). Economists in a Reuters poll expect a reading of 16, compared with 15 in January.

If U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to ban proprietary trading at some banks was applied in the European Union, it could be problematic for the bloc's universal banks, an EU document obtained by Reuters said.

The plan, dubbed the Volcker rule, was drafted by White House adviser and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, stunned global markets last month and is already facing resistance in Congress.

U.S. crude oil futures were up $1.22, or 1.65 percent at $75.36 a barrel, spurred by gains in the euro against the dollar.

In other parts of the world, Australia's central bank intends to raise rates gradually this year to contain inflation, while keeping a wary eye on both sovereign risk abroad and the efforts of China to cool its economy.

The Dow and S&P 500 dipped on Friday as China's move to curb bank lending and U.S. and European economic data raised fears the global recovery might be in jeopardy.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)

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