US index futures gain on German growth, headway on Greek talks

By Roxana Zega

US stock-index futures rose, with the Standard & Poors 500 Index 3 points away from a record, as German growth data signaled a strengthening in Europes recovery and optimism increased about Greek debt talks.

Contracts on the Standard & Poors 500 Index expiring in March advanced 0.2 percent to 2,087.6 at 6:12 a.m. in New York. Futures on the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.3 percent, with the underlying gauge at its highest level in almost 15 years. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 0.2 percent to 17,970.

The US market benefits from a continued improvement in sentiment in Europe, driven by todays good GDP figures for Germany, said Otto Waser, chief investment officer at R&A Research & Asset Management AG in Zurich.

US stocks rose Friday, capping their biggest rally since the dot-com bubble. The value of global equities is headed for a gain of more than $ 66 trillion this week amid easing concerns over Greeces debt and conflict in Ukraine.

Both issues have played out better than expected and markets have thus started to regain confidence over the past few days, Waser said.

Government officials taking part in Greeces debt negotiations said both sides are signaling willingness to compromise, while the German economy, Europes largest, expanded 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter, more than twice as much as forecast.

Earnings, Data

Investors are also awaiting U.S. earnings reports and data to gauge the strength of the worlds largest economy. The University of Michigans preliminary consumer sentiment index will probably show confidence remained at an 11-year high in February, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Exelon Corp. and J.M. Smucker Co. are among six S&P 500 companies reporting quarterly results Friday.

Zynga Inc. tumbled 15 percent in early New York trading, indicating the shares will fall for a second day. Shares fell 5.3 percent yesterday after the maker of the mobile video game FarmVille projected first-quarter earnings that trailed analysts estimates and said it will close its Beijing office.

King Digital Entertainment Plc rose 16 percent after sales of titles other than Candy Crush Saga increased from the previous quarter, signaling the company is diversifying from its top-selling game.


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