By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Monday, bouncing back from the worst weekly decline this year even as investors face the prospect of a lackluster corporate earnings season.
Earnings forecasts have been scaled back heading into first-quarter reports. S&P 500 earnings are expected to have risen just 1.6 percent from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data, down from a 4.3 percent forecast in January.
JPMorgan Chase and Bed Bath and Beyond are among the major companies set to announce results later in the week, while Alcoa’s earnings will be the first from a Dow component after Monday’s closing bell.
Worries on Friday about the pace of earnings growth was a factor in Wall Street racking up its worst week this year so far, while a weaker-than-expected jobs report prompted concern the U.S. economy is in a slow patch.
Despite those headwinds, the loose monetary policy from central banks around the world continues to attract investors to equities, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
“It’s all about easy money and it’s lifting equities around the globe at this time,” said Cardillo.
The Bank of Japan started its bond purchases after it announced last week it will inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy in less than two years.
In the United States, the Federal Reserve’s bond buying program has been a significant catalyst of the recent rally that has sent major indexes to record levels.
Still, U.S. markets could see a technical correction of about 6 percent to 8 percent in the latter part of the month as the focus turns to corporate results, said Cardillo.
The S&P 500 is up nearly 9 percent for the year so far, while the Dow has gained more than 11 percent.
S&P 500 futures rose 4.6 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 18 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 9.5 points.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will give a speech later on Monday after markets are closed. Investors have been watching for any insight into the Fed’s thinking on how long the central bank will keep its asset purchase program in place as it tries to boost the economic recovery.
General Electric Co said it will buy oilfield services provider Lufkin Industries Inc for about $3.3 billion, sending Lufkin shares up 37.1 percent to $87.65 in premarket trade.
Investors will be keeping an eye on the latest developments out of the euro zone after a constitutional court in Portugal overturned key austerity measures in the government’s latest budget. Portugal’s prime minister said the government will cut spending to meet targets agreed with its lenders.