China data helps US futures edge higher

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New York - US stock index futures edged higher on Monday after data overseas suggested the slowdown in economic growth in China, the world's second-largest economy, was not greater as some had feared.

China's annual growth in gross domestic product slowed to 7.5 percent from April to June.

Asian and European stocks rose on relief that the rise was not lower after a surprise fall in exports in June.

Analysts also said the slowdown could encourage the government to push harder on reforms, including investment to encourage more domestic consumption.

An advance on Wall Street during Monday would push major indexes to new peaks.

Both the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 ended Friday's session at record closing highs, though the point and percentage gains for the day were slim.

Over the past three weeks, the benchmark S&P 500 has erased losses of nearly 6 percent from the selloff triggered by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in late May, when he first raised the prospect of trimming the central bank's $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. Since then, the market has been getting reassurance from Bernanke and other Fed officials that the US central bank will keep monetary policy loose for some time.

At home investors will likely be turning their attention to gauge the strength of US companies and the economy as earnings season continues, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“The Fed has indicated that the US economy is growing enough for them to potentially consider tapering and the market has responded in a very positive way,” said Meckler.

“Now's the time to prove it out through a combination of earnings and better economic numbers.”

Citigroup is among major companies reporting results on Monday.

The bank's shares were up 1.2 percent at $51.40 ahead of its release.

Analysts expect S&P 500 companies' second-quarter earnings to have grown 2.8 percent from a year earlier, with revenue up 1.5 percent, data from Thomson Reuters showed.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.7 points but were slightly below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.

Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 30 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 10.25 points.

Airlines over the weekend expressed confidence in the safety of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner following a fire on one of the jets last week. Boeing's shares were up 1.7 percent at $103.60 in premarket trade.

Among US economic data for the day, investors will take in reports on retail sales for June and regional manufacturing in New York state for July at 8:30 am ET (14:30 SA time).

Business inventories for May will be released later in the morning.

Investors' attention will be on Bernanke's testimony in front of lawmakers later in the week.

Fed Board Governor Daniel Tarullo will speak on regulatory reform on Monday. - Reuters


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