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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Increase Before Manufacturing Report

April 1 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures rose, after equities completed their longest streak of quarterly gains since 2007, as investors awaited data that may show American manufacturing expanded last month.

United Continental Holdings Inc. rose in pre-market trading as UBS AG recommended buying the stock. Verint Systems Inc. added 3.8 percent in late New York trading after forecasting annual sales and profit exceeding analysts’ estimates. Medicines Co. dropped 13 percent after a Federal judge said that a rival drug wouldn’t infringe two patents.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in June gained 0.3 percent to 1,869.3 at 7:06 a.m. in New York. The equity gauge added 1.3 percent in the first three months of 2014, its fifth straight quarterly advance. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts rose 43 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,416 today.

“The U.S. is a robust economy and a lift in the weather will be a good tailwind for the market after the very harsh winter,” Jonathan Aldrich-Blake, who helps oversee about $13 billion at Ashburton Investments, said by phone from Jersey in the Channel Islands. “With the Fed preparing to end cheap money, you really need a confirmation that the economy will stand on its own.”

Data at 10 a.m. in Washington time may show U.S. manufacturing expanded at a faster pace in March following the harsh winter weather. The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of activity probably climbed to 54 last month from 53.2 in February, according to the median economist estimate compiled by Bloomberg. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

China Manufacturing

In China, a purchasing managers’ manufacturing index by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics fell to its lowest level since July. A separate PMI from the government, with a larger sample size, rose to 50.3 in March from 50.2 the previous month. Growth in euro-area manufacturing stayed near a three-year high in March, according to another report.

A Labor Department report due April 4 will probably show that the jobless rate fell to 6.6 percent in March from 6.7 percent in February, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The Federal Reserve last month scrapped a threshold for considering raising interest rates based on unemployment dropping to 6.5 percent. Three rounds of central-bank bond purchases have helped the S&P 500 rally 178 percent from its low in 2009 to its March 7 record.

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