Stock futures up after two-day market closure

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Published October 31, 2012

| Reuters

Stock index futures rose on Wednesday, in what could be a volatile day of trading, as equity markets reopen after closing for two days as a damaging storm thrashed the Northeast.

The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq shuttered operations on Monday, hours before hurricane Sandy made landfall on the U.S. eastern seaboard with devastating consequences. Transport into and around New York City remained limited on Wednesday, while wide-scale power outages meant many would be unable to work from home.

Stocks moving in premarket trading included Ford Motor Co , which reported earnings during the closure and rose 1.9 percent to $10.56; Advanced Micro Devices was up 2.4 percent to $2.12, and Home Depot climbed 1.4 percent to $60.90.

Home Depot, a Dow component, is viewed as a company that may benefit from the storm as people buy rebuilding supplies. Insurance companies, which may be on the hook for billions of dollars of damage relating to the storm, will also be in view, as will airlines, which canceled thousands of flights in the northeast because of Sandy.

After two days of market closure during the busy corporate earnings season and at the end of the fiscal year for some funds, some analysts predicted an over reaction and higher-than- normal volume as pent-up demand is realized during early trading.

It was the first time since 1888 that the stock market has been closed for multiple days because of weather.

S&P 500 futures rose 8.8 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 65 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 14.25 points.

All of the U.S. stock market operators took part in coordinated testing Tuesday for trading on NYSE's backup system, in case it needed to be used.

The exercise was also aimed at allowing member trading firms, many of which were operating on backup systems due to complications from the storm, a chance to ensure they're ready for resumption of trading Wednesday.

Ford posted a third-quarter profit that trounced analysts' forecasts on Tuesday, driven by higher vehicle prices and record profit margins of 12 percent in North America. Wednesday will be the first day investors will be able to trading on the earnings.

Other companies, including Pfizer Inc , delayed the release of its results because of the impact of the storm.

Walt Disney Co agreed to buy filmmaker George Lucas's Lucas film Ltd and its "Star Wars" franchise for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, a blockbuster deal that includes the surprise promise of a new film in the series in 2015.

Investors will be looking ahead to Friday's non-farm payrolls report, the last before the November 6 presidential election, which is expected to show 125,000 jobs added in October, up 11,000 from the previous month.

(Additional reporting by Ed Krudy; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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