Stock futures point to positive open after spending data

  on

Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday after data showed personal spending rose in November, though by less than expected.

Sentiment was lifted after chipmaker Micron Technology recorded its first quarterly profit in almost three years and as investors awaited data expected to show an improvement in consumer sentiment.

On the last full trading day before the Christmas holiday, the Commerce Department said consumer spending rose 0.5 percent in November, weaker than the forecast of 0.6 percent.

The number is a little disappointing, but markets are still in a holiday mode, which is historically bullish, said Steve Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co in Greenwich, Connecticut. That will have more of a bearing on the markets today than this.

Investors will also watch for new home sales data for November, a day after equities rallied on a report showing U.S. existing home sales rose at the fastest pace since February 2007.

Investors expect a reading of 73.5 in the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumer Sentiment index for December, according to a Reuters poll, up from the November reading of 67.4. New home sales, personal income and consumption data for November are also on tap.

The home sales and sentiment data will be more scrutinized the spending data, Goldman said. And on those we've seen an upward trend.

S&P 500 futures rose 3 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 gained 22 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 2.5 points.

Technology issues will be on the radar screen after Micron Technology Inc posted its first quarterly profit in nearly three years late Tuesday as sales rose more than expected. Also, Red Hat Inc was the latest business software company to post higher-than-expected quarterly profit.

Micron shares gained 3.4 percent to $9.73 in premarket trading, while Red Hat advanced 6.8 percent to $31.90.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co fell 0.7 percent to $25.40 premarket after it updated the fiscal 2009 outlook.

In overseas action, European shares were broadly higher on Wednesday, with banks and commodity stocks leading the way.

The S&P 500 hit another 14-month high on Tuesday as stocks rallied on the surge in existing home sales.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Join the Discussion