US Stock Futures Signal Slightly Higher Open Ahead Of Federal Reserve Chairman's Speech, Earnings Season

 
on April 08 2013 6:35 AM

U.S. stock index futures point to a slightly higher open Monday ahead of a Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's keynote address at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta 2013 Financial Markets Conference.

With Bernanke scheduled to deliver his address after the closing bell at 7:15 p.m. EDT in the conference with the theme: “Maintaining Financial Stability: Holding a Tiger by the Tail,” in Stone Mountain, Georgia, investors are closely watching his speech for possible hints regarding the direction of the future monetary policy. His comments as the Head of Federal Reserve are awaited as they are likely to determine a short-term negative or positive trend.

Investors are also focusing on the U.S. corporate earnings season that commence after the closing bell Monday, with the aluminum producer, Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) reporting its first quarter earnings. Analysts estimate the aluminum producer to report a profit of $0.08 per share.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.18 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.22 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index rose 0.01 percent.

U.S. stocks ended lower last week after a weaker-than-expected jobs report undermined confidence in the economy and first-quarter earnings growth. Besides, tensions in the Korean peninsula seemed to have added to the negative market sentiment.  

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 40.86 points or 0.28 percent to 14,565.25. The broad-based S&P 500 slid 6.70 points or 0.43 percent to 1,553.28, while the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 21.12 points or 0.65 percent to close at 3,203.86.

Nonfarm payrolls data that measures the change in the number of people employed in the previous month, excluding the farming industry, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday showed that just 88,000 jobs were added in March, less than analysts' estimate of 200,000 jobs. 

A separate data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday showed that the unemployment rate declined to 7.6 percent in March, the lowest rate since December 2008, from 7.7 percent recorded in the previous month, as more people dropped out from work. Analysts had expected the unemployment rate to remain at 7.7 percent in March.

European stocks gained in the opening minutes of the trade as investors remained optimistic on further stimulus hopes ahead of major meetings across the region.

The UK's FTSE 100 and France's CAC-40 were up 0.03 percent each, while Germany's DAX gained 0.2 percent.

Earlier, Asian markets except Nikkei were trading on a mixed note. The Japanese stocks continued to surge on the back of a weak yen, which continued to depreciate following Bank of Japan's announcements of aggressive monetary easing measures.

The Nikkei ended 2.8 percent higher to close at 13192.59, after crossing the 13,000 mark Friday for the first time since Aug. 2008.

South Korea's KOSPI was down 0.44 percent to 1918.69. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.04 percent while edging towards 21718.05. In China, the Shanghai Composite index declined 0.62 percent at 2211.59.

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