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ECONOMIC INDICATORS

U.S. stock futures advance amid Obama optimism on budget talks

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NEW YORK - U.S. stock futures advanced, indicating that the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will gain for a second straight day, as President Barack Obama expressed confidence that he will reach a budget agreement with Congress.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. and Newmont Mining Corp. rallied more than 1.7 percent. Cisco Systems Inc. increased 1.2 percent after it agreed to buy closely held Meraki Inc. for $1.2 billion. Lowe’s Cos. surged 4.6 percent after the home-improvement retailer posted profit that beat estimates. Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. added at least 1.1 percent.

S&P 500 futures expiring in December rose 0.9 percent to 1,371.8 at 8:33 a.m. in New York. Concern about the so-called fiscal cliff drove the benchmark measure down 1.5 percent last week. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 85 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,655 today.

“This change and transition in taxation is much more important for equity allocations going forward than what people realize,” said Michael Shaoul, chairman of New York-based Marketfield Asset Management, which oversees $3.5 billion. He spoke in a phone interview. “The U.S. economy looks pretty good. Earnings are OK. As long as Congress doesn’t absolutely wreck it, it will be fine.”

Obama met with senior Democrats and Republicans on Nov. 16 for talks to avoid $607 billion of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that, if allowed to come into force, might push the country into a recession next year.

Constructive talks

The S&P 500 rose 0.5 percent on Nov. 16 as House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, described the budget discussions as constructive and said he would accept increased government revenue coupled with spending cuts. Congress is now in recess for Thanksgiving until Nov. 26.

“I am confident we can get our fiscal situation dealt with,” Obama said yesterday at a news conference in Bangkok, where he began a three-nation Asian trip. The S&P 500 has still fallen 4.8 percent since the U.S. president was elected for a second term on Nov. 6.

A report today may show sales of previously owned houses held near a two-year high in October, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The National Association of Realtors publishes its benchmark index at 10 a.m. New York time.

Gold and oil rallied as a weaker dollar and concern about unrest in the Middle East increased demand for the commodities as alternative investments. Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the army was prepared to invade the Gaza Strip for the first time in almost four years.

obama, congress, fiscal cliff, S&P 500, budget, stocks, bloomberg
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