Stock Futures Dip Ahead of Production, Consumer Data

4798 Stock index futures dipped on Friday, continuing a trend this week of thin volume and tight moves, with the S&P 500 seen struggling to extend its streak of weekly gains to seven.
The S&P 500, up 6.7 percent so far this year, is facing strong technical resistance near the 1,525 level. But investors, expecting further gains in the quarter, have held back from locking in profits.

With more than $158 billion in deals announced so far in 2013, merger and acquisition activity has given support to the equity market as it points to healthy valuations and bets on the economic outlook.

"No retracement of this move is positive; it shows underlying support for this market," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.

He said the flurry of mergers and acquisitions should be seen as a tailwind for the market.

"You don't go into M&A if you don't have a positive outlook," Hogan said.

S&P 500 futures fell 1.5 points and were 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 fell 11 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 2.5 points.

Traders will eye the Federal Reserve's release of industrial production and capacity utilization data for January at 9:15 a.m. ET, and the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers preliminary February consumer sentiment index at 9:55 a.m.

Consumer sentiment is expected to be slightly higher at 74.8 in February, compared with 73.8 in January, while production and capacity utilization are both seen ticking slightly higher.

Herbalife (HLF.N) shares jumped 18.4 percent in premarket trading, a day after billionaire investor Carl Icahn said in a regulatory filing that he owned 14 million shares, or 13 percent, of the company that sells nutrition and dietary supplements, and was ready to put it in play.

Burger King Worldwide (BKW.N) shares jumped 3.7 percent in premarket trading after it reported a 94 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.

Kraft Foods Group (KRFT.O) said fourth-quarter revenue likely declined 10.7 percent from a year earlier, largely due to reductions in trade inventories. Its shares fell 2.3 percent in light premarket trading.

Source: Reuters
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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