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U.S. Stock Futures Rise on Fiscal-Cliff Optimism; Disney Climbs

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures rose, indicating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will extend a three- week high, amid optimism President Barack Obama will reach an agreement with Congress over a new budget.

Walt Disney Co., the world’s largest entertainment company, advanced 1.1 percent after raising its dividend. Research In Motion Ltd. surged 12 percent as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. advised investors to buy the stock.

S&P 500 futures expiring in December increased 0.6 percent to 1,415 at 8:37 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures expiring the same month rose 69 points, or 0.5 percent, to 13,026.

“So far we have seen a 50-50 percent scenario priced in,” Thomas Haerter, chief strategist at Swisscanto Asset Management AG in Zurich, where he helps oversee about $54 billion, said in a phone interview today, referring to the chance of a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. “These probabilities are starting to move in the direction of a compromise. Evidence of a recovering U.S. housing market is also supporting markets.”

U.S. stocks climbed yesterday after comments by Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner fueled optimism an agreement can be reached to avert more than $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to begin on Jan. 1. The gains trimmed the S&P 500’s decline since the president won re- election on Nov. 6 to 1.3 percent.

Obama reached out to chief executives and middle-income taxpayers, imploring them to press Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff as he said he wants to get a deal “done before Christmas.” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner arrives at the Capitol today to face demands from Republican leaders to spell out spending cuts. He will meet separately with each of the top four leaders in Congress.

U.S. Economy

Gross domestic product grew at a 2.7 percent annual rate, up from a 2 percent prior estimate, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 82 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 2.8 percent gain. Household purchases climbed at a 1.4 percent rate, the least in more than a year and down from a previously reported 2 percent rate, and income gains were also cut.

Fewer Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week as the labor market disruptions wrought by superstorm Sandy ebbed. Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 23,000 to 393,000 in the week ended Nov. 24, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 390,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Disney Gains

Walt Disney gained 1.1 percent to $49.72 after raising its annual dividend by 25 percent, joining other companies boosting their payouts ahead of an expected tax-rate increase next year. The payment of 75 cents per share will be made on Dec. 28 to shareholders as of Dec. 10. The previous 60-cent annual dividend was paid to investors in January.

Google Inc. advanced 0.6 percent to $688 after Oracle Investment Research raised the operator of the world’s most popular search engine to buy from hold.

RIM surged 12 percent to $12.44 after Goldman upgraded the BlackBerry maker to buy from neutral.

Guess? Inc. climbed 6.9 percent to $27 after declaring a special dividend of $1.20 per share payable Dec. 28. The company also said it sees fourth-quarter earnings per share of 85 cents to 95 cents, compared with the average 94 cent analyst estimate.

Infoblox Inc. rallied 25 percent to $17.40. The network and data-services provider said it expects fiscal-year adjusted earnings per share of 17 cents to 21 cents, compared with its previous forecast for 4 cents to 7 cents. That beat the average analyst estimate that called for 6 cents.

Aeropostale Slides

Aeropostale Inc. dropped 9 percent to $12.85 after the teen-apparel retailer projected fourth-quarter earnings per share of 36 cents to 41 cents, compared with the average analyst estimate that called for 55 cents. Chief Executive Officer Thomas Johnson said Black Friday weekend sales were “encouraging,” while he remains “cautious” for the rest of the quarter.

A Bloomberg Global Poll published today showed that three out of four global investors expect Obama and congressional leaders to reach a short-term agreement. Only 6 percent of investors anticipate a political impasse that would send the U.S. economy over the fiscal cliff and into a recession, according to the poll conducted on Nov. 27.

The world economy is in its best shape in 18 months as China’s prospects improve and the U.S. looks likely to avoid the fiscal cliff, according to the poll.

Two-thirds of the 862 surveyed described the global economy either as stable or as improving. That’s up from just over half who said that in September and is the most since May 2011.

The U.S. came out on top for the eighth straight quarter when investors were asked which markets will offer the best opportunities over the next year.

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