Futures higher ahead of economic reports; Blackberry plunges

Futures higher ahead of economic reports; Blackberry plunges

U.S. stock index futures were in positive territory Monday, after the S&P 500 logged its fourth-straight weekly rally, as investors looked ahead to some key economic reports.

At 10 am ET, September factory orders and durable goods data are expected to be released. Economists in a Reuters survey expect August factory orders to rise 0.3 percent versus a 2.4 percent drop in July orders while September orders are expected to rise 1.7 percent.

Investors are looking for further clues from the country’s employment report due at the end of the week as to when the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin winding down its $ 85 billion-a-month asset purchases, after the central bank held policy unchanged last week.

Last week, the Fed’s monetary committee noted that it saw improvement in economic activity and labor market conditions but had “decided to await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases.”

Economists expect to see 125,000 jobs added according to economists polled by Reuters, which would be the second-lowest number of jobs added of 2013, and that the unemployment rate has ticked up to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent.

The central bank is not expected to begin tapering until 2014, a delay partly due to data and partly due to the recent political impasse over government spending.

The president of the Federal Reserve’s Bank of Dallas, Richard Fisher,is expected to tell Australian economists during a speech on Monday that the impasse had slowed the U.S.’s recovery and had counter-acted the stimulative effects of the Fed’ accommodative monetary policy, Reuters reported on Sunday.

“The inability of our government to get its act together has countered the pro-cyclical policy of the Federal Reserve,” Fisher is due to say, according to remarks reported by Reuters.

BlackBerry plunged after the troubled smartphone maker said it is abandoning a plan to sell itself and will instead raise some $ 1 billion and replace its chief executive, according to reports from the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Meanwhile, Asian and European equities traded higher on Monday, as investors looked ahead to the U.S. jobs data and central bank meetings to be held on Thursday by the European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of England (BoE).

There are expectations that the ECB could cut rates when it meets on Thursday, especially after a plunge in inflation to 0.7 percent on year in October, well below the bank’s target of just under 2 percent, and expectations that a strong euro could damage exports.

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