Stock index futures fall; techs in spotlight

By @ibtimes on

Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Tuesday, with futures for the S&P 500 down 0.3 percent, Dow Jones futures down 0.1 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.8 percent at 3:52 a.m. EDT.

* Tech shares will be a focus after Texas Instruments launched a $6.5 billion takeover bid for National Semiconductor Corp , offering a 78 percent premium to merge two of the industry's oldest companies into a dominant force in analog microchips used in products from cars to phones.

* Texas Instruments stock traded in Frankfurt was down 1.5 percent.

* Exchange operator Nasdaq OMX Group said it will rebalance its benchmark Nasdaq-100 index, cutting the weighting of Apple .

* U.S. chemicals group DuPont

said the European Commission has approved its acquisition of Danish food ingredients and enzymes maker Danisco and it expected to close the transaction this month.

* Oil prices hovered near their highest levels since 2008 on Tuesday, with Brent near $121 a barrel, as prices were supported by the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa as well as delays to elections in Nigeria.

* Japan's Nikkei average <.225> fell 1.1 percent on Tuesday with the mood soured by Tokyo Electric Power's fall to an all-time low. <.T>

* European stocks inched higher in thin volume in early trade, helped by rallying tech shares on consolidation hopes after the TI deal, while investors awaited the European Central Bank's interest rate decision and comment on Thursday.

* The ECB was expected to raise rates by 25 basis points from a record low in reaction to rising inflationary pressures in the euro zone. Two more 25-basis-point rate hikes have been factored in by year-end.

* Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said a recent rise in U.S. inflation was driven primarily by rising commodity prices globally, and was unlikely to persist.

* Bernanke's remarks were in sharp contrast to recent comments made by a string of central bank officials, some of whom have argued the time was coming for the Fed to begin tightening monetary policy.

* Investors awaited the release of the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes from its meeting of March 15, due at 1800 GMT on Tuesday, to get more insight on the outlook for U.S. interest rates.

* Credit rating agency Moody's cut Portugal's sovereign debt one notch on Tuesday, saying an incoming government would likely need to seek financing support from the European Union as a matter of urgency.

* The S&P 500 met tough resistance on Monday, failing to break a level that has held since mid-February and ending flat even as a spate of deals and underlying strength in the economy spurred optimism.

* The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 23.31 points, or 0.19 percent, to end at 12,400.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 0.46 point, or 0.03 percent, to 1,332.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 0.41 point, or 0.01 percent, at 2,789.19.

* About 5.94 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq, the lowest total of the year.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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