Stocks set for early gains

By CNNMoney.com staff


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday in reaction to financial results from retail behemoth Wal-Mart and a wave of economic data.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were about 0.5% higher. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

Hamed Khorsand, analyst at BWF Financial, said that futures were getting "an extra push" from decent earnings reports from two retail giants: Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

"They're both consumer related, and the consumer has been the soft spot for investors right now," he said.

Trading on Wall Street was choppy Monday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq managed to advance, rising about 0.4%, while the Dow and S&P 500 ended little changed.

Companies: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT, Fortune 500) reported a slightly better-than-expected second-quarter profit but missed sales estimates Tuesday, as customers of the world's largest retailer continued to curb spending. Wal-Mart also boosted its full-year guidance. Shares of the retailer were up 0.8% in pre-market trading.

Home improvement retailer Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500) posted a better-than-expected second-quarter profit that rose from a year earlier, but its sales missed forecasts.

Shares of fertilizer producer Potash (POT) rose nearly 30% in premarket trading after it rejected a takeover offer by mining company BHP Billiton.

General Motors is expected to file for an initial public offering of stock with U.S. securities regulators as early as Tuesday.

Economy: A slew of economic reports, including data on housing and inflation, showed mixed results.

A report from the Commerce Department showed that housing starts -- the number of new homes starting construction -- totaled an annual rate of 546,000 in July; permits were 565,000.

Both of these tallies were less than expected. Economists were looking for housing starts to rise to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 555,000; building permits were expected to slip to a rate of 573,000.

The Producer Price Index, a measure of wholesale inflation, matched expectations by increasing 0.2% in July, after dropping 0.5% in June.

World markets: European shares got off to a positive start. The CAC 40 in France jumped 1.1% in morning trading, while Germany's DAX and the FTSE 100 in Britain gained about 1%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng ended the session with modest gains. Japan's benchmark Nikkei index, however, fell a;most 0.4%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro, the U.K. pound, and the Japanese yen.

Oil futures for September delivery rose 71 cents to $75.95 a barrel.

Bonds: Prices for Treasurys were lower. The yield on the 10-year note rose to 2.6% from 2.58% late Monday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. To top of page

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