US stock-index futures rise after Yellen comments on stimulus

US stock index futures advanced, signaling benchmark indexes will extend their run into record territory after Yellen comments toward continuing Fed stimulus policy. Investors focus their attention on recent economic data trying to asses whether Fed will cut back its bond-purchasing program sooner than March 2014.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in December advanced 0.2% to 1,790.30 at 11:43 a.m. in London. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts added 22 points, or 0.2%, to 15,861.
Nasdaq index added 0.2% to 3,418.50.

“We got a glimpse of the future of the Fed under Yellen’s stewardship — and the verdict from markets is that we should expect policy continuity when Yellen officially takes the reins next year. As was largely expected, the line of questioning in Yellen’s Senate nomination hearing was centered on the topic of the Fed’s asset purchases. In her response, Yellen’s comments suggested a continuing commitment to QE,” analysts at Deutsche Bank said in a note.

Investors awaited data today on this month’s manufacturing in the New York region at 8:30 a.m. local time, and on U.S. industrial production for October at 9:45 a.m.

In corporate world, Exxon, the world’s biggest oil company by market value, gained 2.1% to $95.20 in pre-market trading. Berkshire Hathaway reported a stake valued at about $3.7 billion. Buffett’s company said in a regulatory filing that it owned 40.1 million shares of Exxon on September 30.

Banks were in focus after Moody’s Investors Service yesterday said it lowered by the senior holding company ratings of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Moody’s also confirmed the senior holding company ratings of Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., and Wells Fargo & Co. Goldman Sachs fell 0.6% to $162.26 in German trading, while Morgan Stanley slid 0.4% to $30.21. JP Morgan was little changed.

FedEx Corp. shares may rise after separate funds managed by Dan Loeb, George Soros and John Paulson disclosed stakes in the transport company.

Applied Materials Inc. said on Thursday after-market it swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $183 million, or 15 cents a share, from a loss of $515 million, or 42 cents a share, a year ago. Applied Materials also expects adjusted profit in the range of 20 cents to 24 cents a share for the current quarter. Analysts were expecting a profit of 24 cents a share. Shares of Applied Materials were down 0.6% in after hours.

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