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Stock futures rise modestly ahead of opening

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[February 17, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures rose modestly Wednesday as investors bet a new round of economic reports will provide further evidence of a rebound.

Overseas markets rose following upbeat earnings in Europe from companies including French bank BNP Paribas.

Investors turned their attention from concerns overseas to domestic growth Tuesday, and sent stocks sharply higher. Two new reports due out Wednesday before the market opens are expected to provide further signs of an economic recovery, which should keep traders focused on the U.S. economy for at least another day.

The Commerce Department is expected to report construction of new homes and apartments rose 4.1 percent to an annual rate of 580,000 in January after construction fell in December because of bad weather.


A collapse of the housing market helped push the economy into recession, but recent reports on the sector have showed some signs of stability. The report is due out at 8:30 a.m. EST.

Industrial production likely also grew last month. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters forecast production at the nation's factories, mines and utilities rose 0.6 percent last month, marking the seventh consecutive month of growth.

The report is due out at 9:15 a.m. EST.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 21, or 0.2 percent, to 10,262. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 3.30, or 0.3 percent, to 1,096.50, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 5.00, or 0.3 percent, to 1,804.25.

Stocks rose sharply Tuesday after better-than-expected earnings from companies like Barclays PLC, Merck & Co. and Abercrombie & Fitch provided reassurances that the economy is improving.

Simon Property Group's takeover bid of rival mall operator General Growth Properties also provided signs companies are getting more confident in a rebound.

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Stocks had been dragged down in recent weeks because of overseas concerns -- mainly worries about debt problems in Greece spreading and upending a recovery and China slowing down bank lending to prevent speculative bubbles. Those concerns appear to have eased somewhat, allowing investors to again focus on the domestic economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average soared nearly 170 points, or 1.7 percent, on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.8 percent, while the Nasdaq composite index jumped 1.4 percent.

Meanwhile, bond prices fell Wednesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.69 percent from 3.66 percent late Tuesday.

The dollar rose modestly against other major currencies. Gold prices dipped, while oil rose.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 2.7 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.6 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 1 percent, and France's CAC-40 jumped 1.4 percent.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN BERNARD]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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