March 28, 2014 / 11:34 AM / 4 years ago

US STOCKS-Futures edge higher on hopes for China stimulus

* Nasdaq on track for biggest weekly fall since 2012

* Momentum stocks still in focus, pullback may not be done

* Red Hat profit beats expectations, but outlook weak

* Futures up: Dow 42 pts, S&P 5 pts, Nasdaq 14.25 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Friday, lifted by remarks from China’s Premier Li Keqiang that the Chinese government was ready to take steps to support its economy.

* Despite the gain implied by futures, major indexes are on track for a negative week, with the Nasdaq set for its biggest weekly decline since 2012 as investors sharply took profit in high-growth names. Trading has been volatile throughout the week, with sentiment largely driven by geopolitical uncertainty. The S&P 500 turned nearly flat for the year on Thursday.

* The prospect of slowing growth in China, the world’s second-largest economy, has long been a market headwind. Recent economic data has pointed to the weakest growth there since the global financial crisis, raising hopes that Beijing would step in with support.

* Keqiang said the government had the necessary policies in place and would push ahead with infrastructure investment. “We cannot neglect the increasing downward pressure and difficulties,” he said in a speech on Wednesday that was reported by the Xinhua news agency early on Friday.

* Red Hat Inc reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations late Thursday, though the company gave a full-year profit view that was below forecasts.

* BlackBerry reported an adjusted fourth-quarter loss and revenue that was below expectations. U.S. shares of the smartphone maker were halted in premarket trading.

* S&P 500 futures rose 5 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 added 42 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 14.25 points.

* While the S&P lost most of its 2014 gains in Thursday’s session, the benchmark index managed to hold above the 1,840 level, which has recently acted as support.

* For the week thus far, the Dow is down 0.2 percent, the S&P is down 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq is down 2.9 percent, its biggest weekly decline since October 2012.

* Losses were concentrated in the Nasdaq as investors took profit in some of the market’s biggest outperformers, primarily in the Internet and biotech space. Some analysts say the selloff in “momentum” stocks has yet to run its course, though this could benefit more value-orientated names. A move to such companies helped limit the Dow’s weekly decline.

* Investors were looking ahead to February personal income and consumption data, due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Both are seen rising slightly. Also on tap is the final March read on sentiment from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers. That report, scheduled for release at 9:55 a.m., is expected to show a rise to 80.5 from 79.9.

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc this week sued Visa Inc for $5 billion, accusing the credit and debit card network of excessively high card-swipe fees, several months after the retailer opted out of a class action settlement between merchants and Visa and MasterCard Inc.

* Trading on Friday and Monday may be influenced by the first quarter drawing to a close as money managers engage in “window dressing,” adjusting positions to improve the look of their portfolios. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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