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Stock futures rise slightly, point to higher open

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[May 28, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks appear set to end a volatile month with a quiet day ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. Futures rose slightly Friday after the major indexes surged a day earlier.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed nearly 285 points, its second biggest gain of the year. The big jump came as concerns eased somewhat about the health of Europe's economy after China said it doesn't plan to sell any European debt it holds.

Triple digit moves became common again during the month as investors grappled with concerns that mounting debt in Europe might upend a global economic recovery. Because of those worries, most of the big moves during the month were drops. The Dow has fallen 6.8 percent in May.

Domestic economic reports have taken a back seat to questions about whether countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal will be able to implement steep budget cuts to contain growing deficits. Analysts say even if the countries are successful in reducing debt, cost-cutting could be a major drag on the economy.

Traders spent most of May driving down the euro, which has become a gauge of confidence for Europe's economy. The euro hit a four-year low and was down as much as 9 percent during the month. But, it did inch higher Friday. It rose to $1.2406.

Movements in the euro often dictated movement of stocks worldwide. Major European and Asian indexes rose modestly Friday. The U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Memorial Day.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 3, or less than 0.1 percent, to 10,238. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 0.40, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,101.50, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 0.50, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,864.25.

If European debt worries ease further, the focus could return to the U.S. economy. Reports throughout the month continued to show the country is growing, albeit slowly. Earlier this year, stocks climbed steadily because economic and earnings reports showed consistent improvement.

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A new report Friday is expected to say consumer spending rose in April, but at a slower pace than March. At the same time, growth in personal income likely accelerated last month.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters forecast personal income rose 0.3 percent last month, after climbing 0.6 percent in March. Personal income likely rose 0.5 percent in April after rising 0.3 percent in March, economists forecast.

The Commerce Department report is due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Economists predict a final reading of the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index will be unchanged at 73.3 from a preliminary reading reported earlier this month.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.33 percent from 3.36 percent late Thursday.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.7 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 0.5 percent, and France's CAC-40 gained 0.2 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.3 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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