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Upbeat Earning Reports Point To Improving Economy

Mon, 04/26/2010 - 4:21am
Ieva M. Augstums, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures pointed to a modestly higher open on Wall Street Monday after Caterpillar Inc. joined other companies in reporting more signs of an improving world economy.

The big equipment maker, whose results are seen as an economic indicator, reported first-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations after a one-time charge related to health care expenses. The company also said in a statement "economic conditions are definitely improving," and it said orders are significantly higher than last year.

Investors also got some good news from Whirlpool Corp., which said its first-quarter profits doubled as it sold more appliances in the U.S. and other countries. That adds to the signs that consumer spending is picking up.

Investors were showing some caution, though. A series of upbeat earnings reports have sent stocks steadily higher over the past week, and many analyst believe that strong results are already priced into the market.

This week will bring a stream of reports from companies across a range of industries, including Ford Motor Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and UPS Inc. Consumer products companies including Procter & Gamble Co. and Colgate Palmolive are also scheduled to release their results.

Investors also got some reassurance about Greece's debt problems. The Greek government on Friday said it wanted to tap a rescue package from 15 European countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 33, or 0.3 percent, to 11,175. Standard & Poor's 500 futures rose 3.00, or 0.3 percent, to 1,215.30. Nasdaq 100 futures gained 2.50, or 0.1 percent, to 2,055.50.

Monday brought news of a big corporate acquisition. Hertz Global Holdings Inc., the world's largest car rental company, agreed to buy rival Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group for about $1.17 billion in cash and stock. Investors interpret companies' willingness to do deals as a vote of confidence in the economy.

Gold rose, while the dollar was modestly higher against most other currencies.

Oil prices were slightly higher.

In European trading stocks are higher in reaction to Greece's request for rescue funds. The FTSE-100 in London rose 0.7 percent. The CAC 40 index in Paris rose 1.1 percent.

Earlier, stocks closed higher in Tokyo. The Nikkei 225 average rose 2.3 percent.

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