March 29, 2010 / 12:21 PM / 9 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures up as Greece readies bond; data in focus

* Personal income and consumption data on tap

* Greece to issue 7-year bonds

* China’s Zhejiang Geely Holdings to buy Ford’s Volvo

* Futures up: S&P 4.7 pts, Dow 52 pts, Nasdaq 7.75 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US] (Adds quote, byline)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, March 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures gained on Monday as Greece prepared to test demand for the battered country’s debt and investors shifted focus to key jobs data later this week.

Greece approved five banks for a new benchmark seven-year bond, its first test of the market after a deal was reached last week with the euro zone leaders and the International monetary Fund to give the Athens a financial safety net. Greece has about 23 billion euros of bonds maturing between now and the end of May. For details, see [ID:nLDE62S0SD]

A week of heavy economic data starts off with the U.S. Commerce Department’s readings on personal income and consumer spending for February at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT).

Key labor market data is due Friday, with the economy having created about 190,000 jobs in March, but investors will have to be brave enough to bet ahead of the data release since the U.S. stock market will be closed for the Good Friday holiday. Private sector jobs data on Wednesday and jobless claims on Thursday may offer clues.

“We are seeing early strength in the market this morning, partly as Greece is quickly taking advantage of their new found IMF and euro zone support system, by coming to market with a 7-year note,” said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

“Also with the market near 18-month highs, investors are optimistic that the economic recovery will continue and the data later this week confirm that,” he added.

S&P 500 futures SPc1 rose 4.7 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 DJc1 gained 52 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 added 7.75 points.

In company news, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, China’s largest privately run carmaker, agreed Sunday to buy Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) Volvo unit for $1.8 billion, the country’s biggest overseas auto purchase. [ID:nTOE62S02A]

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp is not yet on board with Washington Mutual Inc’s WAMUQ.PK bankruptcy reorganization plan, including a massive tax refund to JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), according to the company and a Wall Street Journal report.

General Growth Properties Inc GGP.N is getting closer to filing a bankruptcy exit plan, with its board planning to meet Monday to approve the proposal, sources said.

Oil prices rose toward $81 a barrel on Monday, recouping some losses in the previous session, supported by a weaker dollar and positive data, including a rise in Euro zone sentiment in March.

Hynix Semiconductor Inc (000660.KS), the world’s No. 2 memory chipmaker, said Monday that global memory chip supply remained very tight and stronger-than-expected market conditions would continue into the second quarter. [ID:nTOE62S043]

European markets mostly rose after a survey showed economic sentiment in the 16 countries that use the euro rose and investors grew more upbeat about Greece’s ability to handle its debt problems.

The Dow and S&P ended flat Friday, giving back earlier gains, after the sinking of a South Korean naval ship, while technology sector weakness kept the Nasdaq in slightly negative territory. (Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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