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U.S. Stock Futures Gain as Investors Weigh Durable-Goods Report

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures climbed, indicating equities will rise for a second day, as investors weighed a report showing durable-goods orders rose more than forecast while investment in business equipment fell.

Facebook Inc. gained 0.3 percent after buying virtual- reality headset maker Oculus VR Inc. Tesla Motors Inc. rose 0.6 percent after an Ohio Senate committee approved a bill that permits the company to operate retail stores. Endocyte Inc. fell 2.5 percent after saying it plans to sell shares.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in June added 0.3 percent to 1,865 at 8:34 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts increased 58 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,356.

“I have never seen a market so forgiving of the current environment,” Patrick Spencer, head of equity sales at Robert W. Baird & Co., said by phone from London. “People are looking through weather-related issues in the data to a better recovery in the second half, and it looks like they’ll continue to look through the data. The market has given the economy the benefit of the doubt.”

The S&P 500 has advanced 0.9 percent this year through yesterday, putting it on course for a fifth consecutive quarterly gain. The index has accomplished that feat just seven times since its creation in 1957.

The gauge rose 0.4 percent yesterday after data showed confidence among American consumers at a six-year high, adding to reports indicating the economy is pulling out of a slowdown linked to unusually harsh winter weather.

Data Watch

Demand for durable goods -- items meant to last at least three years -- climbed a more-than-forecast 2.2 percent, reflecting the biggest gain in automobile demand in a year, a Commerce Department report showed today.

Orders for U.S. business equipment fell in February for the second time in three months, signaling corporate investment will be slow to gain momentum following an unusually harsh winter that put a damper on demand.

A report at 9:45 a.m. New York time will probably show that activity in the services sector has increased this month. Markit Economics Ltd.’s purchasing-managers index rose to 54 in March from 53.3 in February, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Three rounds of bond purchases from the Federal Reserve have helped fuel economic growth, sending the S&P 500 surging as much as 178 percent from its 2009 low. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on March 19 that the central bank’s stimulus program could end this fall and benchmark interest rates may rise about six months later.

Bullard Comments

Fed Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said today policy makers haven’t committed to a specific month to end the bond purchases even as it would take a significant shift in the outlook to alter the path of tapering.

Bullard, who doesn’t vote this year on the Federal Open Market Committee, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television that he doesn’t think “policy has really changed” and that Yellen’s six-month comment wasn’t that different from what financial-market participants were already expecting.

Facebook added 0.3 percent to $65.07. The world’s largest social network said yesterday that it will spend $2 billion to buy Oculus, expanding into wearable hardware for the first time. Irvine, California-based Oculus makes a device called Rift that people can wear to play computer games.

Tesla rose 0.6 percent to $221.75. An Ohio Senate committee approved a bill formally barring automakers from selling directly to consumers except for a maximum of three outlets for the electric-car manufacturer.

Endocyte fell 2.5 percent to $26.51. The biotechnology company will offer 4.5 million shares to raise funds for working capital, research and development and clinical-trial costs, according to an announcement after the close of trading yesterday.

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