Updated March 30 at 4:30pm

U.S. stock futures little changed; S&P 500 near 5-year high


LONDON - U.S. stock futures were little changed after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed for two weeks to trade near the highest level in five years.

United Parcel Service Inc. rose 2.1 percent in Germany after the world’s biggest package-delivery company said European regulators plan to block it 5.16 billion-euro ($6.9 billion) bid for TNT Express NV. Transocean Ltd. gained 2.7 percent in early New York trading after billionaire investor Carl Icahn acquired a stake.

S&P 500 futures expiring in March climbed 0.2 percent to 1,469.9 at 9:53 a.m. in London. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures increased 17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,450.

The S&P 500 advanced 0.4 percent last week, bolstered by better-than-estimated Chinese export data and investor optimism about fourth-quarter U.S. earnings. The gauge closed at 1,472.12 on Jan. 10, the highest level since December 2007.

“We have just had a very nice rally so I think we have to be careful,” Virginie Maisonneuve, who helps oversee about $327 billion as head of global equities at Schroder Investment Management Ltd., said on Bloomberg Television in London. “It would be normal to see a pause in the market. You should then take advantage of that and add cyclicality to your portfolio if you don’t have already.”

Earnings season

Of the 27 S&P 500 companies to have reported quarterly results last week, 81 percent exceeded analysts’ estimates and 67 percent posted a profit increase, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Fourth-quarter earnings at S&P 500 companies increased 2.5 percent, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That would be the second-slowest quarterly growth since 2009, the data show.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., EBay Inc. and General Electric Co. are among S&P 500 companies scheduled to report this week.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is due to speak at 4 p.m. today in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before economic data this week that may show retail-sales growth slowed and manufacturing in the New York region stagnated.

Fed Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans said in Hong Kong today that the central bank should keep policy accommodative to support the economy while lawmakers reduce government spending to tame the budget deficit.

Evans, who votes on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year, has been one of the most outspoken advocates within the Fed for stimulus. He was the first official to propose linking the central bank’s benchmark interest rate to economic thresholds, a policy that was adopted by the FOMC at its Dec. 11-12 meeting.


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