Stock Futures Cut Gains After Goods Report

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Stock-index futures pared modest gains as traders digested durable goods data that came in weaker than Wall Street anticipated.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 17 points to 13141, S&P 500 futures gained 1 point to 1407 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.8 points to 2781.

The markets have rallied so far during the first quarter, which is drawing to a close this week. Indeed, the blue chips have tacked on some 8%, while the broader S&P 500 is roughly 12% to the upside.

This week, market participants have been paying close attention to the U.S. economy. Wall Street posted a strong performance Monday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted at more monetary easing, but then struggled the following day amid mixed reports.

The durable goods report is one that is particularly closely watched since it is so wide-ranging and directly impacts broad measures of economic output. Indeed, it encompasses everything from refrigerators made by General Electric (NYSE:GE) to airplanes crafted by Boeing (NYSE:BA).

Orders for long-lasting goods jumped 2.2% in February from the month prior, a shallower increase than the 3% economists expected. Excluding the transportation component, orders were up 1.6%, a tick below the 1.7% forecast.

One variable may be how soaring gasoline and oil prices have affected demand for these products. Consumer sentiment and manufacturing reports have shown that orders have remained robust, but some economists say there is a risk that people's and business' disposable income may take a hit.

In corporate news, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) considered splitting up its chairman and chief executive roles amid pressure from shareholder groups, according to multiple reports. A separate report by Reuters said the securities behemoth's European investment banking revenue jumped 8% during the first quarter as derivatives activity surged across the continent.

Energy futures markets came under pressure ahead of the weekly inventory report from the Energy Department. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York fell 88 cents, or 0.82%, to $106.45 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline slumped 1.2% to $3.367 a gallon.

In metals, gold slipped $7.80, or 0.46%, to $1,680 a troy ounce. U.S. Treasury bonds fell, pushing yields higher. The yield on the 10-year note rose 0.026-percentage point to 2.212%.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips climbed 0.17%, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.01% to 5870 and the German DAX rose 0.08% to 7085.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slid 0.71% to 10183 and the Chinese Hang Seng slumped 0.77% to 20885.

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