NEW YORK — Stock futures rose slightly today as investors tried to brush off fresh worries about the health of European banks.
Major indexes had retreated yesterday after new questions surfaced about exactly how much potentially risky government debt European banks are holding. That snapped a strong four-day rally in the U.S. where investor optimism grew following reports on employment and manufacturing that showed the economy continues to grow, although slowly.
A report due out this afternoon from the Federal Reserve could provide further insight into the pace of the domestic recovery. The Fed’s “beige book” report will break down economic activity across the country by region.
The Fed has been cautious in its statements about the economy in recent months. Any signs of encouragement from the central bank could be considered further confirmation of last week’s economic reports and restart the rally.
Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 19, or 0.2 percent, to 10,357. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 2.60, or 0.2 percent, to 1,093.80, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 7.25, or 0.4 percent, to 1,864.75.
Bond prices traded in a tight range. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.61 percent from 2.60 percent late yesterday. Its yield is often used to help set interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans.
With many investors still risk averse, gold rose $1.30 to $1,260.6 an ounce. That’s just shy of its all-time trading high $1,266.50 an ounce. The yen hit a new 15-year high against the dollar.
In corporate news, shares of BP PLC rose after Fitch Ratings upgraded the company’s debt. The oil company is releasing its internal report about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It rose $1.29, or 3.5 percent, to $38.48 in pre-opening trading.
Stocks fell yesterday following European markets lower after reports questioned whether European banks might have more exposure to risky government debt than originally believed.
Global markets first fell in the spring because of European government debt concerns. Investors were worried in the springtime that governments trying to lower debt would slow a global recovery. Now there are also concerns that banks throughout Europe will be hindered from expanding lending because they need to hold on to more cash to protect against potential default on the government debt they hold.
Britain’s FTSE 100 fell less than 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 0.2 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.3 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 2.2 percent.