Futures Higher; Home Depot, Banks Gain


This morning's Wall Street theme might be "running in place": so far this week, the Dow is down 0.07 point, though the S&P 500 has managed to eke out a 0.25 percent gain and the Nasdaq has risen 0.6 percent.

However, Tuesday could see more action, with plenty of potential market moving events on the docket. Right now, U.S. stock index futures are pointing to a higher opening, and overseas markets have generally been higher as well.

Home Depot adjusted its earnings guidance, saying it would see results that ranged from flat to down 7 percent from last year, a modest adjustment from previous projections of a 7 percent drop but enough to send shares up 3.7 percent in premarket trading.

Banks also were broadly higher as the market digested news that some of the largest institutions would be repaying government bailout money.

Two of those who won't be giving back their Troubled Asset Relief Protection funds, Bank of America and Citigroup, nevertheless rose premarket, gaining 1.4 percent and 3.2 percent respectively. Some investors worried that the 10 banks returning TARP money could be doing so too soon and might need further injections later.

In the day's economic news, the trade deficit ballooned to $29.16 billion, more than the $28.7 billion expected and the $28.53 logged in March. Exports fell 2.3 percent, while imports fell 1.4 percent.

And mortgage applications fell by 7.2 percentlast week to a four-month low as rising mortgage rates sapped demand.

The most-watched report of the day is likely to be the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book", the region-by-region assessment of the nation's economy. That's out at 2pm New York time, and investors will be looking to see if that evaluation contains the same level of optimism that other recent reports have evinced.

Simultaneously, the government will also be out with the monthly budget statement for May, expected to show a federal budget deficit of $180 billion for the month.

The Energy Department is out with its weekly report on oil inventories at 10:30am, as oil prices continue to move higher.

Also in energy, Swiss engineering firm ABB saw its shares rise 2.2 percent premarket on news that it had received a $233 million contract from Algerian oil and gas company Sonatrach for three gas plants in Algeria.

Elsewhere, Unilever shares rose 3 percent premarket after the consumer goods company said it plans to issue an eight-year sterling benchmark bond.

BHP Billiton gained more than 5 percent and Rio Tinto was up more than 6 percent, a day after a Chinese steel industry group said it opposed the merger between the two companies.

In technology, Sequenom shares jumped nearly 5 percent following  cautious upgrade from Lazard, which moved the maker of genetic analyis projects from "sell" to "hold" but cautioned it remains an "extremely risky investment."

At 1pm, the market will get the results of the Treasury's 10-year note auction. These auctions have also gotten an increasing amount of attention in recent weeks, given the worry over investor interest in helping the U.S. finance its increasing budget deficit.

It will also be a busy day on Capitol Hill, as another hearing on the auto industry bailout convenes at 2:30pm.  This comes as the Supreme Court clears the way for Chrysler to go ahead with its sale of assets to a new joint venture with Fiat.

- Written by Peter Schacknow