Stock futures little changed, foreign issues remain

By @ibtimes on

U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Monday as foreign headwinds remained in view following three days of U.S. equities gains, suggesting the recent period of volatility wasn't over.

* Reports of soaring radiation levels at a damaged nuclear plant in Japan renewed worries over the country's reactors, which were damaged after an earthquake and tsunami, though Nikkei futures were slightly higher.

* Investors also watched spreading violence in the Middle East and North Africa as rebels in Libya pushed west over the weekend to retake a series of towns from the forces of Muammar Gaddafi. In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad deployed the army in the country's main port of Latakia for the first time after nearly two weeks of protests spread across the country.

* The issues surrounding the nuclear disaster and civil unrest have pressured markets in recent weeks, and while much of those losses have been recouped, upside volume has been limited as investors continue to watch headlines closely for trading cues.

* Market participants are also looking ahead to February pending home sales data at 10 a.m., which are seen falling by 1 percent. Recent data on the sector has come in weaker than expected, raising concerns there may be further downside ahead for the battered sector.

* S&P 500 futures rose 1 point and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 7 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6.25 points.

* Robert W. Baird upgraded a number of telecom companies to outperform, including Dow components AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc , saying AT&T's deal to buy T-Mobile would help stabilize the hyper-competitive industry.

* Procter & Gamble and Unilever will raise their prices on detergent and soap in China by up to 15 percent next month, according to a report in the Shanghai Daily.

* A strong forecast from Oracle Corp lifted Wall Street to a third straight day of gains on Friday, giving the S&P its best weekly performance since early February, but volume remained light as global uncertainty persisted.

( Editing by W Simon )

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