Updated March 25 at 12:28am

U.S. stock futures rise on Fed support speculation, budget talks


NEW YORK - U.S. stock futures rose, indicating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will extend a five-week high, amid speculation the Federal Reserve will expand stimulus measures and as lawmakers continued talks on the budget.

DuPont Co. advanced 3 percent as the chemical maker announced a share buyback and said 2012 earnings will be at the high end of forecasts. Costco Wholesale Corp. gained 1 percent after profit topped analyst estimates. Dish Network Corp. climbed 1.1 percent after winning approval to offer a smartphone service. Molycorp Inc. plunged 8 percent after its chief executive officer left amid an investigation.

S&P 500 futures expiring this month rose 0.1 percent to 1,432.7 at 8:36 a.m. in New York. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,288. The Dow erased its post-election losses yesterday as investors weighed progress in talks to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

“The market wants resolution and as long as there is some sort of clarity, even if it’s not a terribly attractive deal, markets will be pretty happy,” Mark Slater, chief investment officer at Slater Investments Ltd. in London, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I think there’s a lot of pent up demand in America that’s been held back by this process.”

President Barack Obama lowered his demand for tax increases in the budget to $1.4 trillion from $1.6 trillion yesterday as he and House Speaker John Boehner inched toward a deal. Democrats and Republicans remain divided on taxes and spending, as well as on whether an agreement should include an increase in the debt limit and further programs to boost the economy.

Bloomberg poll

Almost half of Republicans say Obama has an election mandate to raise rates on the rich. Majorities of about 2-to-1 also read the result of the Nov. 6 election as an endorsement of the president’s pledge to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits, according to a Bloomberg National Poll of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 7-10.

The Fed concludes a two-day meeting today. The U.S. central bank will announce its interest-rate decision at 12:30 p.m. in Washington, followed by forecasts on economic growth, unemployment and inflation. It will expand economic stimulus by unveiling $45 billion in monthly Treasury purchases in addition to the program to buy $40 billion in mortgage bonds each month, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.

“The number that people are talking about is the $45 billion worth of medium- and long-dated Treasuries,” Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin Securities in London, said in a phone interview today. “It will just reinforce the support that it already has for the economy. What really matters is this deal on budget policy.”

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