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Futures Turn Positive on Economic Signs

CNBC.com
Tuesday, 15 Sep 2009 | 8:44 AM ET

Stock index futures turned positive after a series of readings showed the economy gaining strength..

The government said producer prices rose 1.7 percent, retail sales were up 2.7 percent and the New York "Empire State" manufacturing index hit its highest level in two years. Futures had been slightly negative prior to the data release but quickly turned positive.

In other news, Citigroup has mentioned a plan to the Treasury to unload some of the government 34 percent stake in the company, CNBC confirmed. But it was published reports that Citi is also considering a $5 billion secondary offering than sent its shares down more than 3.5 percent in before-hours trading.

Also in the financial sector, Bank of America is facing going to trial after a federal judge rejected a $33 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over bonuses paid at Merrill Lynch. BofA shares were off nearly 1 percent premarket.

And in Europe, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling plans to make banks draw up "living wills" that would allow them to be dismantled easily, the Financial Times Reported.

In the morning's lone earnings report of significance, retailer Best Buy missed expectations with a profit of 37 cents a share due to a stroner dollar and higher expenses. Shares fell 2.4 percent premarket.

Elsewhere, Alcatel-Lucent shares rose 2.2 percent premarket and was one of the most actively traded issues after UBS raised its price target on the company.

Oil prices, a reliable gauge of market movement for the past six months, rose towards $70 a barrel.

President Barack Obama's speech on the financial landscape Monday didn't alarm Wall Street, with stocks making modest gains. Obama, in an interview with CNBC Monday evening, stressed that new oversight and "circuit breakers" for the financial markets are needed.

There are concerns that the markets have already forgotten some of the lessons of the crisis. Rochdale Securities Bank Analyst Dick Bove told "Squawk Box Asia" that investors only need to look to yields on junk bonds to see that "greed" has returned to the markets

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