Stock futures signal gains; eyes on pharmas

 @ibtimes on December 21 2009 4:08 AM

Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher opening on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.13 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.1 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.07 percent at 0845 GMT (3:45 a.m. EST).

The healthcare sector was expected to be in focus after a broad healthcare overhaul passed its first crucial test in the U.S. Senate on Monday, with 60 Democrats voting to put President Barack Obama's top legislative priority on a path to being passed by Christmas.

Investors will keep an eye on Dubai, where debt-ridden conglomerate Dubai World is expected on Monday to ask key creditors for more time to pay off its loans. The Gulf Arab emirate's flagship company is expected to formalize a request for a payment standstill at a meeting with some 90 creditors.

Japan's exports rose by the most in seven years in November as China led growth in demand from Asia, easing fears Japan will slipped into another recession next year.

The dollar dipped against the euro on Monday but still hovered near its highest point in more than three months as currency players anticipated more short-covering in the greenback in a holiday-shortened week.

Pfizer Inc , the world's biggest drugmaker, is buying the rights to a stem-cell therapy to treat inflammatory bowel disease from Athersys Inc , the New York Times said on its website late on Sunday.

Terex Corp , the world's third biggest maker of heavy earth-moving equipment, is to sell its mining business for $1.3 billion cash to mining equipment maker Bucyrus International Inc , the companies said on Sunday.

French group Safran and General Electric have won a multi-billion dollar deal to provide the powerplant for China's new C919 plane, Safran said on Monday.

Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> rose 0.4 percent to an eight-week closing high on Monday, boosted by gains in high-tech exporters, while European stocks were up 0.4 percent in morning trade, with banks such as HSBC bouncing back from Friday's selloff in the sector.

U.S. stocks rose on Friday in choppy trade as quarterly results from Oracle and Research In Motion lifted the Nasdaq more than 1 percent, but the U.S. dollar's climb curbed gains in both the Dow and the S&P 500.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added 20.63 points, or 0.20 percent, to 10,328.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 6.39 points, or 0.58 percent, to 1,102.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 31.64 points, or 1.45 percent, to 2,211.69.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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