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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Rise as China Cuts Reserve Ratio

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures rose as China’s central bank cut reserve requirements for lenders to support growth and euro-area finance ministers gathered to decide whether to bail out Greece for a second time.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in March added 0.5 percent to 1,366.40 at 11:29 a.m. New York time. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures increased 68 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,997. U.S. stock exchanges are closed today for Presidents’ Day. Futures trading will resume at 6 p.m. New York time, according to CME Group Inc.’s website.

“We have the U.S. economy accelerating with the job data and housing data also beginning to look pretty good,” said Peter Garnry, an equity strategist at Saxo Bank A/S, in a Bloomberg TV interview. “We think it is in most countries’ interest to preserve the European Union and the euro. We think there will be a deal.”

The S&P 500 advanced 1.4 percent last week, putting it 0.2 percent away from erasing its losses since April, amid optimism Greece will get another bailout and reports on manufacturing, housing and jobless claims that bolstered confidence in the world’s largest economy. The stock index is less than 3 points away from completing its recovery from a 19 percent retreat between April and October. Topping 1,363.61 would put the measure at the highest level since 2008.

Euro-area finance ministers meet in Brussels today to discuss the second bailout package for Greece. The country’s Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, will also attend. The talks will seek to reconcile demands made on Greece’s politicians, a debt swap for private creditors, the role of the European Central Bank and concern that austerity will fail.

‘Clear Messages’

“We expect today to close a long period of uncertainty that has not been to the benefit of either the Greek economy or the euro area as a whole,” Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters in Brussels, according to an e-mailed statement from his office in Athens. “Europe knows that what is of importance now is to send clear messages with decisions that are completed and implemented, with rules which are consistent and don’t change all the time.”

China cut the amount of cash that banks must set aside as reserves for the second time in three months to spur lending. Reserve requirements will fall by 50 basis points from Feb. 24, the People’s Bank of China said on Feb. 18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at astoukas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Baker at nbaker7@bloomberg.net; Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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