Stock futures posted gains today as overseas manufacturing and
services data brightened the mood before the Federal Reserve's
crucial vote on quantitative easing tomorrow.
After Friday's mixed session,
(INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.48% at 15,777.00 before the
opening bell on Monday. After suffering its biggest weekly decline
in almost four months last week,
(INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.50% to 1,777.30.
(INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.48% to 3,469.75.
Markit returned both good and bad results for its preliminary
December manufacturing readings. China's PMI unexpectedly slowed
down this month, falling to 50.5 from 50.8 as employment and output
prices decreased. (Readings over 50 indicate an expansion of the
sector.) Economists had expected the number to rise one-tenth of a
point. This reading is still an improvement over the third quarter.
The eurozone's business climate improved this month, but the gulf
between the two biggest economies is widening. The region as a
whole snapped two months of slowdowns, with composite services and
manufacturing PMI rising to 52.1 from 51.7. Germany charged ahead
at 55.2, up from 54.3. French PMI slipped to 47 from 48.5, the
fastest decline since May.
"It's the unbalanced nature of the upturn among member states that
is the most worrying," wrote Markit Chief Economist Chris
Williamson. "France looks increasingly like the new 'sick man of
Europe,' as a second successive monthly contraction may translate
into another quarterly decline in GDP, pushing the country back
into a technical recession," he said.
America's flash manufacturing PMI reading for this month will be
released later this morning. Economists predict that the index will
rise to 55 from 54.3 last month. Industrial production in November
will be released right after. The consensus estimate for the
indicator is for a 0.6% rise in production after October's 0.1%
drop. The government also released data showing that non-farm
productivity roes 3% in the third quarter while labor costs fell
The quarterly Tankan Survey showed that for the last quarter of
2013, Japanese large manufacturers' business sentiment is the
highest it has been in six years. Small manufacturers' sentiment
turned positive, rising to 1 from -9. Capital expenditure came in
at 4.5, a vast improvement over the previous quarter's 3.3, but
below expectations of 5.5.
) announced this weekend that it will acquire Boston Dynamics, a
military contractor that builds advanced robots such as Big Dog and
Wildcat. The company's robots are capable of running even faster
than humans. Andy Rubin, the former Android chief who now heads
Google's futurist robot division, tweeted a
New York Times
story on the acquisition, saying, "The future is looking awesome!"
Before the start of trading today, Google shares are up 0.4%.
Shares of Sprint Corporation
), the third-largest mobile carrier in the US, are up 3.5% this
morning on reports that it is considering a takeover of
). The number-four carrier's shares declined 1%. A takeover could
see regulatory headwinds. T-Mobile US just recently acquired Metro
PCS, and Sprint was recently bought by Japan's
(OTCMKTS:SFTBF). The Justice Department also recently put the
kibosh on a takeover of T-Mobile by
) on concerns that consumer choice could be hurt by excessive
Advanced Micro Devices
) shares declined 0.8% in the pre-market today after Oppenheimer
analysts cut their rating on the stock to Underperform from Market
Perform. The analysts cited the declining consumer PC market as a
factor in downgrading the chipmaker.