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U.S. stock index futures point to a firmer start U.S. stock index futures point to a firmer start

Published: February 29, 2012 | 11:13 am
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* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a firmer open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones futures and Nasdaq 100 futures rising 0.1-0.2 percent at 0958 GMT.

* The FTSEurofirst 300 index gained 0.5 percent as investors anticipated that a large number of banks would take up the European Central Bank’s second long-term refinancing operation which would help flood the financial system with cash.

* Economic data will be a main focus for the market, with U.S. preliminary quarter-four GDP (second estimate), due at 1330 and U.S. Chicago PMI for February index of manufacturing activity released at 1445 GMT.

* A person familiar with the matter said a criminal probe was being conducted by the U.S. Justic Department on whether the world’s biggest banks manipulated a global benchmark rate.

Several major global banks, including Citigroup, HSBC Holdings, Royal Bank of Scotland Group and UBS , have disclosed that they have been approached by authorities investigating how Libor is set.

* Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo both said on Tuesday they may face federal enforcement action related to mortgage-backed securities deals leading into the financial crisis.

* An injunction to suspend the Brazilian operations of oil major Chevron and offshore oil-rig contractor Transocean over a November oil spill northeast of Rio de Janeiro has been declined by a federal judge in Brazil.

* A faster, better-equipped version of Apple’s popular iPad tablet is expected to be unveiled at a media event next Wednesday to thwart increasing competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Amazon.com Inc.

* BP is seeking to settle a lawsuit over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill by tapping a $14 billion fund it set aside to compensate fishermen and businesses harmed by the disaster, lawyers familiar with the talks said.

* JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Financial Officer, Doug Braunstein, said the bank aimed to lift profits by 25 percent and was targeting an annual net income of $24 billion, up from the $19 billion it earned last year.

* The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. federal authorities are investigating David Loeb, a managing director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc, as part of an insider trading probe focusing on technology stocks and the company’s hedge fund clients.

* Strong consumer confidence data and a fall in oil prices boosted the Dow to close above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008 on Tuesday and also led the S&P 500 to hit a milestone.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.2 percent, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.7 percent.


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