Updated March 25 at 6:26pm

U.S. stock-index futures are little changed before economic data


NEW YORK - U.S. stock futures were little changed, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index yesterday reached its highest level since April, as investors awaited reports on consumer confidence and leading economic indicators.

Gap Inc. climbed 2.4 percent as earnings topped analysts’ estimates. Marvell Technology Group Ltd. slumped 9.4 percent after predicting profit that fell short of forecasts.

S&P 500 futures expiring in September dropped less than 0.1 percent to 1,412.50 at 9:03 a.m. in New York. The index closed at 1,415.51 yesterday, within four points of a four-year peak of 1,419.04 set on April 2. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 1 point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 13,226.

“Markets have behaved well in recent weeks, and I think investors are simply digesting the recent gains,” said Andreas Nigg, head of U.S. and international equities at Vontobel Asset Management in Zurich. “For the markets to advance further from these levels, we will need more good news, either from the economy or central banks, or both.”

The S&P 500 added 0.7 percent in the previous four days, poised for its sixth weekly advance and the longest winning streak since January 2011.

A report at 9:55 a.m. in Washington may show the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment slipped to 72.2 in August from 72.3 the prior month, according to a survey of economists. Leading economic indicators gained 0.2 percent in July, another survey may show.

Narrow range

The S&P 500 yesterday broke out of a narrow trading range after hovering around 1,400 for the past seven sessions. Trading volume and volatility have dropped this month as vacationing traders awaited policy clues from the Federal Reserve’s summit at the end of the month and a European Central Bank meeting in September. The index has rallied 11 percent from a five-month low on June 1 amid speculation global central banks will introduce further stimulus measures.

Gap gained 2.4 percent to $35.18. The largest U.S. specialty-apparel retailer reported a 29 percent rise in second- quarter profit, aided by domestic sales. The company boosted its full-year earnings forecast.

Foot Locker Inc. climbed 4.3 percent to $35.97. The athletic shoe and apparel retailer reported profit that exceeded analysts’ estimates for a 10th straight quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ann Inc. rallied 15 percent to $32.39. The women’s clothing retailer increased its full-year sales forecast as second- quarter profit exceeded analysts’ estimates.

Marvell dropped 9.4 percent to $11.13. The maker of chips for mobile phones and communication and storage gear predicted third-quarter profit, excluding certain costs, will be 24 cents a share, plus or minus 2 cents. Analysts, on average, expected 32 cents, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. advanced 3 percent to $5.80. The maker of switches for data-storage networks reported third-quarter profit that surpassed analysts’ estimates. Chief Executive Officer Michael Klayko plans to resign as the company’s efforts to sell itself have been unsuccessful.


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