Monday 29 June 2009

2nd UPDATE:BEFORE THE BELL: US Stk Futures Turn Up; Eyes On Madoff

2nd UPDATE:BEFORE THE BELL: US Stk Futures Turn Up; Eyes On Madoff

(Updates to add analyst comments, latest available prices)

By Simon Kennedy

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--U.S. stock-market futures were modestly higher Monday but were off their earlier highs at the start of a holiday-shortened week, with Enterprise and Teppco announcing a merger and attention also on the sentencing of Bernard Madoff for his multibillion-dollar fraud.

"As the second quarter is all but completed, attention has finally turned to the reality that stock prices simply are not moving higher in the absence of confirming economic and profit data," said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst at Miller Tabak.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.7 points to 916.60 and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3.5 points to 1480.20. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 22 points.

There's little significant data due Monday, though the rest of the week will see a string of releases. They include the June employment report, which will be announced earlier than usual on Thursday, as U.S. markets will be closed Friday for the Independence Day holiday.

"Fortunately, or unfortunately, this week brings a series of important economic data points which will go a long way to either confirming the market's expectations or throwing a big bucket of cold water in the face of many market participants. This culminates in Thursday's payroll report," said Greenhaus.

In New York, Madoff is scheduled to learn his fate for stealing at least $13 billion from thousands of unknowing victims, with the 71-year-old likely to spend the rest of his life in jail.

Oil prices moved higher, with the August-dated light-crude contract adding 58 cents to $69.74 a barrel. The move came after oil prices fell more than $1 in the previous session on concern that a high U.S. savings rate could imply a slow recovery and weak demand.

Also Monday the International Energy Agency revised down its six-year demand forecast.

The euro fell 0.1% against the dollar at $1.4047, while the greenback gained 0.3% against the yen to 95.44 yen.

"The major indices may struggle for a bit of direction today as we lack any real meaningful data on both the economic and corporate calendars," said Ian Griffiths, a dealer at CMC Markets.

"With the recent rally slowing considerably and the markets looking toppy, investors will be hoping to break the two week losing streak and get some gains on the board. However with unemployment set to move into double figures on Thursday we may have to build up some gains before what could be some disappointing numbers," he added.

In corporate news, Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD), Teppco Partners LP (TPP) and Enterprise GP Holdings L.P. (EPE) announced that they had agreed to form a publicly-traded energy partnership with an enterprise value of more than $26 billion.

Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby and Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc. (WW) said Sunday they have agreed to merge in a $3.5 billion deal that will created a global professional-services and human-resources group.

Mining giant Anglo American PLC (AAUK) is in talks to sell a major investment stake to Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. (ACH), according to a U.K. media report, though at least one executive is separately quoted as saying no deal is planned.

Microsoft Corp.(MSFT) plans to sell its digital advertising agency Razorfish, according to a Financial Times report, with France's Publicis Groupe (PUB.FR) a possible buyer.

Among companies due to report earnings Monday, H&R Block Inc. (HRB) is expected to post a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $2.06 a share.

In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 0.5%, while in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down around 1%.

-Simon Kennedy; 415-439-6400;

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 29, 2009 09:00 ET (13:00 GMT)

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