Stock futures rise, but Japan, Libya issues weigh

By @ibtimes on

U.S. stock index futures rose on Monday, building on three sessions of gains, though developments in Japan and Libya remained in view, suggesting further volatility ahead.

Reports of soaring radiation levels at a damaged nuclear plant in Japan renewed worries over the country's reactors after an earthquake and tsunami, though Nikkei futures began to recover.

In the Middle East and North Africa, violence spread as rebels in Libya pushed west over the weekend to retake a series of towns from the forces of Muammar Gaddafi. In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad deployed the army in the country's main port of Latakia for the first time after nearly two weeks of protests spread across the country.

The issues surrounding Japan's nuclear disaster and civil unrest have pressured markets in recent weeks, and while much of those losses have been recouped, the volume of trade has been limited as investors continue to watch headlines closely for trading cues.

Those issues are still lingering with the market, though I don't think as much attention is being paid as two weeks ago, said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners LLC in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. There's more confidence now that we've recovered from the drop we saw on the news.

Market participants are also looking ahead to February personal income and consumption data, due at 8:30 a.m.. Income is seen rising 0.4 percent while consumption is seen rising 0.6 percent.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.8 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 21 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 8 points.

Robert W. Baird upgraded a number of telecom companies to outperform, including Dow components AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc , saying AT&T's deal to buy T-Mobile would help stabilize the hyper-competitive industry.

U.S.-listed shares of Nokia Corp rose 3.2 percent to $8.62 in premarket trading as Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to buy, citing the handset maker's long-term growth potential.

Eastman Kodak Co surged 19 percent to $4.05 in premarket trading after a U.S. trade panel agreed to review the company's claim that Research in Motion Ltd and Apple Inc are infringing on Kodak's patents.

U.S. pending home sales for February, due from the National Association of Realtors at 10 a.m., are seen falling by 1 percent after a string of weaker-than-expected data for the battered housing sector.

A strong forecast from Oracle Corp lifted Wall Street to a third straight day of gains on Friday, giving the S&P its best weekly performance since early February, but volume remained light.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

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