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Stock futures point to modestly higher open

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[August 25, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures were rising, pointing to a modestly higher opening Tuesday as investors await key readings on house prices and consumer confidence.

RestaurantPresident Barack Obama is also expected to announce the reappointment of Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chairman.

U.S. markets are moving opposite overseas markets, which were declining amid economic concerns in China.

Investors are entering trading cautiously ahead of a private research group's August consumer confidence reading. A recovery among consumers is considered vital to any potential economic rebound because their spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expect the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index to rise to 47.5 from 46.6 in July. Despite the expected improvement, consumers' confidence remains fragile amid ongoing job losses. A reading above 90 means the economy is on solid footing.

The report is due out at 10 a.m. EDT.


Traders also get a key report on house prices. The housing market, whose collapse helped lead to the recession more than a year ago, is showing signs of life as sales have started to pick up. However, prices continue to decline.

Stabilization in home prices would provide further indication that the housing sector is starting its recovery.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price index, which is due out at 9 a.m. EDT, measures changes in home prices in 20 major metropolitan markets. Analysts expect prices fell 16.5 percent in June, compared with the year-ago period. That would be a slight improvement from the 17.1 percent decline in May.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 11, or 0.1 percent, to 9,504. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 1.30, or 0.1 percent, to 1,025.80, while Nasdaq 100 index futures increased 2.00, or 0.1 percent, to 1,636.00.

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Major indexes were little changed Monday after posting four consecutive daily gains last week. Stocks gave up early gains as financials retreated. Regional banks were especially hit hard amid concern about potential mounting losses from commercial real estate.

The Dow rose 3 points, while the S&P fell less than 1 point.

Meanwhile, bond prices fell slightly as the Treasury Department plans to kick off a new round of auctions. A total of $197 billion in Treasurys will be auctioned off throughout the week.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.49 percent from 3.48 percent late Monday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.16 percent from 0.15 percent late Monday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.8 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.2 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.1 percent, and France's CAC-40 declined 0.1 percent.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN BERNARD]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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