US STOCKS-Futures rise to keep Tuesday momentum on sturdy data

Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:00am EDT

* Mining stocks under pressure as gold tumbles

* General Mills slips after results

* Futures up: Dow 71 pts, S&P 9.3 pts, Nasdaq 20 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, June 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday, indicating the S&P 500 may build on its biggest gain in nearly two weeks on Tuesday, on the back of stronger-than-expected economic data.

The S&P 500 rose nearly 1 percent Tuesday, its most since June 13, as data on durable goods orders, sales of new homes and consumer confidence all topped analysts' expectations and the People's Bank of China eased concerns about a possible banking crisis in the world's second-largest economy.

Still, the benchmark S&P index remains down 3.9 percent since the Fed signaled last week that it may begin to rein in its stimulus efforts should its economic forecasts hold.

"I'm going to be really surprised if we end up big today like we did yesterday, this may just be a happiness hangover from yesterday," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst, Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"People want to believe the end of quantitative easing isn't just around the corner."

The final estimate of first quarter gross domestic product is due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 2.4 percent annualized pace of growth, the same as the preliminary estimate for the quarter.

Gold stocks were under pressure as the precious metal fell to its lowest in almost three years, putting it on course for a record quarterly loss. U.S.-listed shares of Gold Fields Ltd dropped 6.1 percent to $4.77 and Barrick Gold Corp lost 4.1 percent to $15.45 in premarket trading.

S&P 500 futures rose 9.3 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 71 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 20 points.

Food manufacturer General Mills slipped 0.7 percent to $47.98 in light premarket trading after giving a forecast for the new fiscal year that fell shy of expectations, even as its quarterly profit was in line with estimates.

Other S&P 500 companies due to report on Wednesday include Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc, Monsanto Co and Paychex Inc.

Microsoft Corp climbed 0.7 percent to $33.892 in premarket trading after Morgan Stanley raised its rating on the software company to "overweight."

European shares were on track for their biggest two-day gain since April, after a month-long downward trend, thanks to robust U.S. data.

Asian shares turned around a four-day losing streak and rose on Wednesday after China's central bank assured it will offer funds to banks if needed, but lingering fears of a credit crunch and slower loan growth continued to drive selling of Shanghai shares.