US STOCKS-Futures point to higher open, S&P 500 near record

Reuters - UK Focus

* S&P 500 within points of record, may meet resistance

* Emerging markets in focus after Ukraine president ousted

* Men's Wearhouse raises offer for Jos. A. Bank

* Netflix (NasdaqGS: NFLX - news) shares fall, to pay Comcast for faster speeds

* Futures up: Dow 42 pts, S&P 5.2 pts, Nasdaq 13.25 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Frankfurt: HX6.F - news) , Feb 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futurespointed to a higher open on Monday, putting the S&P 500 withinpoints of its record high, though investors may have few reasonsto push shares decisively above that level.

* Geopolitical uncertainty will continue to be in focusafter Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted followingdeadly street protests, leaving a potential power vacuum and anailing economy. Ukraine's finance ministry said the economyrequired $35 billion in foreign aid over the next two years,with the first tranche needed within two weeks.

* While most U.S. companies have limited direct exposure toUkraine, investors worry that the instability in the regioncould spread throughout emerging markets.

* In the latest U.S. data, the National Activity index fellto -0.39 in January from 0.16 in December while financial datafirm Markit's preliminary February read on the services sectorfell from 56.7 to 52.7.

* Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE - news) shares rose after the company said thatits drug Prevenar 13 prevented community-acquired pneumonia inindividuals age 65 and older in a study.

* Verizon Communications Inc (LSE: VZC.L - news) shares dipped 0.7percent to $46.92 in premarket trading after the company gave a2014 revenue outlook.

* S&P 500 futures rose 5.2 points and were above fairvalue, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into accountinterest rates, dividends and time to expiration on thecontract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 42points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 13.25 points.

* Wall Street stocks have recovered from weakness in lateJanuary, with the S&P 500 having gained 3 percent over the pastthree weeks. Investors have largely shrugged off a recent slewof weak economic data, blaming it on a harsh winter rather thanweakening fundamentals.

* Still, the S&P has found resistance at 1,850.84, itsrecord intraday level, which was hit on Jan. 15. The index iscurrently 0.8 percent away from that level.

* In company news, Men's Wearhouse Inc raised itscash tender offer for rival men's clothing retailer Jos. A. BankClothiers Inc JOSB.O to $63.50 per share from $57.50. Shares ofMen's Wearhouse rose 5.3 percent in premarket trading while Jos.A. Bank was up 8.9 percent.

* Netflix Inc has agreed to pay Comcast Corp for faster speeds, though terms of the agreement werenot disclosed. Shares of Netflix fell 1.7 percent to $425.01 inlight premarket trading.

* U.S. shares of BlackBerry Ltd rose in premarkettrading after the company said it would make its messagingservice BBM available to Microsoft (Berlin: MSF.BE - news) 's Windows Phone andthe upcoming Nokia X platforms in the coming months.

* Tenet Healthcare (NYSE: THC - news) , Frontier Communications Corp and EOG Resources Inc (NYSE: EOG - news) are scheduled to reportresults after the market closes.

* Trading may be light, with few domestic catalysts to drivemarkets until Thursday, when Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellenwill speak to the Senate Banking Committee in her semi-annualtestimony about monetary policy.

* Yellen's comments will be scoured for insight into theextent to which bad weather has impacted economic activity, aswell as for confirmation that the Fed will not make any changesto its schedule for trimming stimulus.

* U.S. stocks rose for much of the session on Friday, butturned lower late in the session on options-related trading.

View Comments (0)