NEW YORK--U.S. stock futures rose, putting the market on course for a third-straight week of gains, as signs of a potential end to violence in Ukraine helped set a positive tone. European markets saw broad gains, after data showing U.K. retail sales declined in line with forecasts. About 85 minutes ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures tacked on 33 points, or 0.2%, to 16133. On
Thursday, the Dow rallied 93 points, or 0.6%, erasing an early loss of as much as 34 points. S&P 500 futures gained four points, or 0.2%, to 1840 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced eight points, or 0.2%, to 3680. Changes in stock futures don't always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.
The S&P 500 rose 0.6% on Thursday, and has gained 5.6% since Feb. 3, to close within 0.5% of its Jan. 15 record high of 1848.38. Stocks have been rising over the last couple weeks as investors in the face of disappointing data, as investors have blamed bad
weather for the recent slowing in the economy.
Stocks have been rising over the last couple weeks in the face of disappointing economic data, as investors increasingly believe any recent slowing in economic growth is weatherrelated, and therefore temporary. That idea was reinforced Thursday after the preliminary reading of Markit's purchasing managers' index for February jumped to near four-year highs, suggesting the slowdown seen in January was a result of "heavy snowfall and extreme weather conditions." The data also implied the U.S. market was still the place to
be for global investors, as Markit's PMI readings for China and the euro zone declined.
"As we get out of a pretty harsh winter, you'll see the economy continue to improve," said Jon Maxson, partner at investment advisor Beacon Capital Management, with $400 million in assets under management. "And if you look at the overall earnings season, Corporate America is in pretty good shape." At 10 a.m. EST, existing home sales for January are expected to decline 3.5% on the month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.7 million. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note inched up to 2. 758% from
- 754% late Thursday.
Although Mr. Maxson is anticipating more volatility this year, after a such a great 2013 in which the S&P 500 soared 30%, he believes investors should learn to embrace it, and use pullbacks as buying opportunities, "as the underlying fundamentals of the market are continuing to improve."
Mr. Maxson added that he is watching the situation in Ukraine closely, but doesn't believe it will have too much affect on the U.S. market unless it gets worse.
Gold futures gained 0.5% to $1,322.90 an ounce, while crude-oil futures slipped 0.3% to $102.49 a barrel. The dollar ticked higher against the euro and the yen. In Europe, Stoxx Europe 600 tacked on 0.3%, putting it on course to close at the highest level in more than four weeks. Ukraine's presidential administration said
Friday that a preliminary agreement has been reached to bring an end to the political crisis that has rocked the country and will be signed later in the day. The developments came after ratings company Standard & Poor's cut Ukraine's sovereign credit rating to triple C, a couple of notches above a default rating.Separately, U.K. retail sales for January declined 1.5% on the month, matching expectations, after rising 2.6% in December.Germany's DAX 30 index
added 0.1%, France's CAC 40 gained 0.3% and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.2%. Asian markets were mostly higher. The highlight was the 2.9% surge in Japan's Nikkei Average to close out the best weekly performance since November, after the Bank of Japan said earlier in the week it would increase incentives to spur bank lending. China's Shanghai Composite bucked the regional trend by falling 1.2%.