Futures rally after BOJ ramps up stimulus

By Reuters

Oct 31, 2014 08:45 AM EDT

U.S. stock index futures rallied on Friday alongside most markets globally after the Bank of Japan significantly ramped up its stimulus program just days after the U.S. Federal Reserve wound down its own package of economic incentives.

If futures' gains hold after the open, the S&P 500 will test its record high set more than a month ago.

The BOJ's board voted 5-4 to accelerate purchases of Japanese government bonds while tripling its purchases of exchange-traded funds and real-estate investment trusts.

At the same time, Japan's $1.2 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund announced new allocations for its portfolio, including raising its holdings of domestic and foreign stock holdings to 25 percent each from 12 percent. A Nikkei newspaper report on this announcement on Thursday contributed to an afternoon rally in U.S. stocks.

The timing of the moves sends a strong signal to investors, coming right as six years of aggressive U.S. stimulus come to an end and as euro zone inflation data kept the pressure on the European Central Bank to further ease monetary policy.

"Investors have been watching for a while to see if the rest of the world would start to grow and help multinationals in the U.S.; this is a great step towards that," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"It is a significant development and I think it encourages the Europeans to also look to take more assertive steps to revive their economies."

S&P 500 e-mini futures ESc1 were up 22 points and fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract, indicated a higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures 1YMc1 rose 191 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures NQc1 added 60 points.

The U.S. dollar rallied as well, pressuring crude oil prices as well as spot gold XAU=, which dropped more than 2 percent.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 rose 4.8 percent, while S&P 500 e-mini futures rallied shortly before 1:00 a.m. New York time in a sharp volume increase.

The U.S. economic schedule is busy on Friday with key inflation data and a quarterly gauge of worker compensation due at 8:30 a.m. EDT as well as a Chicago survey of business activity and a measure of consumer sentiment both shortly after the opening bell on Wall Street.

Abbvie (ABBV.N) shares rose 3.8 percent in premarket trading after the drugmaker reported quarterly earnings. So far this earnings season has been strong, with 75.5 percent of S&P 500 components reporting earnings above analyst expectations according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 63 percent average in the past 20 years.

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