Wall Street futures signal flat to higher opening

By @ibtimes on

NEW YORK Stock index futures pointed to a flat to higher opening for Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.1 percent, Nasdaq futures up 0.1 percent and Dow Jones futures trading flat by 0841 GMT.

* Shares on Wall Street started the second quarter on a solid footing on Friday, ending the session higher on optimism over the recovery in the labor market after data showed the unemployment rate fell to a two-year low.

* The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> hit 12,419.71, its highest intraday level since June 2008, before closing on Friday at 12,376.72.

* The robust jobs data has prompted some caution in equity markets as expectations grow that the Federal Reserve could scale back ultra loose monetary policy in the second half of the year as the economy shows signs of recovery and inflation expectations pick up.

* Monetary tightening expectations have been fueled by hawkish talk from some Fed officials in the past weeks, though influential member William Dudley said recently that there was no need for the central bank to reverse course.

* The European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to lead the way among Western central banks to shift rates higher at a meeting later this week.

* Some nervousness over the political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa continued to linger in financial markets, with Brent crude rising to a 2-1/2 year high above $119 on the worries.

* In company news, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc and IntercontinentalExchange Inc are expected to face serious hurdles to their bid for NYSE Euronext .

* Separately, Deutsche Boerse is holding off on making any decision as to whether to raise its rival offer for NYSE Euronext, two sources familiar with Deutsche Boerse's thinking said on Monday.

* The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said on Sunday it had not struck a deal with BP to allow the oil company to resume deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, refuting a press report.

* Abbott Laboratories Inc's experimental Absorb heart stent, designed to dissolve and thereby restore the blood vessel's natural flexibility, has proven safe and effective a year after being implanted in patients, researchers said.

* In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top shares was higher in early trade, with the chemicals sector boosted by a pickup in merger and acquisitions (M&A) activity.

(Reporting by Harpreet Bhal; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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