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US STOCKS-Futures climb after historic market closure

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:58 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Traders looking for "compression effect" after closure

* Day marks end of fiscal year for many mutual funds

* Ford rallies after results posted during closure

* Futures up: Dow 65 pts, S&P 8.2 pts, Nasdaq 9 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Oct 31 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday in what could be a volatile day of trading as equity markets reopen after a damaging storm forced a two-day market closure.

It was the first time since 1888 that the stock market had been closed for multiple days because of weather.

The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq shuttered operations on Monday, hours before hurricane Sandy made landfall on the U.S. eastern seaboard with devastating consequences. Transport into and around New York City remained limited on Wednesday, while wide-scale power outages meant many would be unable to work from home.

After the market closures, coming during the busy corporate earnings season and at the end of the fiscal year for some funds, some analysts predicted an over reaction and higher-than- normal volume as pent-up demand is realized during early trading.

Chris Bertelsen, chief investment officer at Global Financial Private Capital in Sarasota, Florida, said the day would be marked by "the compression effect," marked by above-average volume as "one day of trading basically represents three."

"However, that's volume to the upside since we've had some positive underpinnings with strong earnings from Ford and BP and good news out of Europe," he said. "If we had been open over the past two days that would've been reflected in the market, but since we were dark, all that is going to come out today."

Stocks moving in premarket trading included Ford Motor Co , up 1.9 percent to ${esc.dollar}10.56, Advanced Micro Devices, up 2.4 percent to ${esc.dollar}2.12, and Home Depot, gaining 1.4 percent to ${esc.dollar}60.90.

Home Depot, a Dow component, is viewed as a company that may benefit from the storm as people buy rebuilding supplies. Insurance companies, which may be on the hook for billions of dollars of damage relating to the storm, will also be in view, as will airlines, which canceled thousands of flights in the northeast because of Sandy.

S&P 500 futures rose 8.2 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 65 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 9 points.

All of the U.S. stock market operators took part in coordinated testing Tuesday for trading on NYSE's backup system, in case it needed to be used.

The exercise was also aimed at allowing member trading firms, many of which were operating on backup systems due to complications from the storm, a chance to ensure they're ready for resumption of trading Wednesday.

Ford posted a third-quarter profit that trounced analysts' forecasts on Tuesday, driven by higher vehicle prices and record profit margins of 12 percent in North America. Wednesday will be the first day investors will be able to trading on the earnings.

General Motors reported earnings Wednesday that beat expectations, even as other companies, including Pfizer Inc , delayed the release of its results because of the impact of the storm.

Walt Disney Co agreed to buy filmmaker George Lucas's Lucas film Ltd and its "Star Wars" franchise for ${esc.dollar}4.05 billion in cash and stock, a blockbuster deal that includes the surprise promise of a new film in the series in 2015.

Investors will be looking ahead to Friday's non-farm payrolls report, the last before the Nov. 6 presidential election, which is expected to show 125,000 jobs added in October, up 11,000 from the previous month.

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