U.S. stock futures rose, indicating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will snap a two-day slump, as investors awaited the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s meeting for clues on more stimulus measures to support the economy.
Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, and Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, advanced more than 1.4 percent after quarterly earnings beat analysts’ projections. Avon Products Inc. slumped 3.2 percent as the door-to-door cosmetics seller reported a 70 percent decline in earnings. MasterCard Inc., the world’s second-biggest payments network, lost 4.3 percent amid disappointing sales.
S&P 500 futures expiring in September rose 0.3 percent to 1,378.8 at 8:42 a.m. New York time. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 42 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,991. Trading in Europe slowed before the Fed’s decision. The number of shares changing hands in Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s companies was 36 percent lower than the 30-day average at this time of day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Bernanke will leave the door open,” Larry Kantor, head of research at Barclays Capital, said on Bloomberg Television’s City Central. “He doesn’t want to disappoint market expectations too much but I don’t see the Fed making any move at all this week.”
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will probably forgo announcing a third round of large-scale asset purchases today and may wait until September to unveil plans to buy debt, economists said before today’s statement. Data showing manufacturing weakness from China to Europe boosted speculation policy makers will act to support the economy. Manufacturing in the U.S. probably stagnated in July after contracting for the first time in three years, economists said before a report today.
Investors also watched corporate results. About 72 percent of the S&P 500 companies which reported second-quarter earnings beat estimates, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. Yet 60 percent missed analysts’ sales forecasts.
Comcast added 1.4 percent to $33. The company improved its video guide, boosted internet speeds and added phone features to fight competition from online video companies, satellite-television providers and Verizon Communications Inc.’s FiOS and AT&T Inc.’s U-verse. Comcast has curbed video losses for the seventh consecutive quarter on a year-over-year basis.
Allstate added 4.7 percent to $35.90. Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilson, 54, has been seeking rate increases and changing terms of policies to boost profitability as severe weather increases claims costs and low interest rates put pressure on investment income from the company’s bond portfolio.
Casino companies gained as Macau gaming revenue rose 1.5 percent in July, beating estimates from some analysts who predicted a little changed or lower result on declining demand from mainland Chinese gamblers and the impact of a Hong Kong typhoon. Wynn Resorts Ltd. rose 1.1 percent to $94.77. Las Vegas Sands Corp. gained 0.9 percent to $36.74.
Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings rallied 13 percent to $94.79. The company may be the target of a private equity buyout, Reuters reported, citing Mergermarket, a provider of news and data on acquisitions.
Avon slumped 3.2 percent to $15. The company, which has posted three straight years of declining profit, named Sherilyn McCoy chief executive officer in April to lead a turnaround. Sales in Europe, Middle East and Africa declined 14 percent in the second quarter.
MasterCard lost 4.3 percent to $418. The company reported second-quarter sales of $1.82 billion, missing the average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey of $1.88 billion.
For the first time in more than two years, commodities, equities, bonds and the dollar posted a monthly gain, as the U.S. drought sent corn prices to a record and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s pledge to protect the euro buoyed stocks.
Raw materials led the increase as the S&P’s GSCI Total Return Index of 24 raw materials rose 6.4 percent in July, the most since October. The MSCI All-Country World Index of equities rallied at the end of the month for a 1.4 percent gain. The U.S. Dollar Index , a measure against six currencies, added 1.3 percent. Bonds of all types returned 1.4 percent on average, the most since December, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Global Broad Market Index shows.
The last time all four measures rose for a month was in April 2010, when concerns about Greece were heating up and U.S. economic reports were improving. While corn rose the most last month in almost a quarter century and wheat reached a four-year high, financial assets gained as policy makers worked to boost global growth.