Stock futures point to rise as drug stocks rally
AstraZeneca leaps on renewed Pfizer interest; pending home sales ahead
By Anora Mahmudova and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect number for Charter Communications revenue. The number has been corrected.
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open Monday as drug stocks rallied on a $100 billion takeover offer. President Obama announced new sanctions against Russia, and a report on pending home sales is ahead.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (CBE:DJM4) climbed 47 points, or 0.3%, to 16,371, while those for the S&P 500 index(GLC:SPM4) picked up 4 point, or 0.2%, to 1,864.10. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (GLC:NDM4) rose 7 points, or 0.2%, to 3,537.25.
U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN) (LSS:UK:AZN) leapt 16% after Pfizer Inc.(NYSE:PFE) confirmed it has approached the drug maker for a second time about a takeovervalued at nearly $100 billion. Pfizer said in a statement it the merger would result in a more efficient tax structure as AstraZeneca’s non-U.S. profits wouldn’t be subject to U.S. tax. Pfizer shares were up 2.1% ahead of the open.
Furiex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:FURX) surged 30% ahead of the open after Forest Laboratories Inc. (NYSE:FRX) said it will buy the company for $1.1 billion in cash.
The rise in the broad market follows a sharp selloff on Friday, when renewed tensions between Russia and Ukraine and a batch of disappointing earnings sent all three benchmarks lower. The Russia-Ukraine standoff was also in the spotlight on Monday, with President Barack Obama saying the U.S. will levy new economic sanctions on Russian companies and individuals on Monday.Read: Pro-Russia rebels parade hostages in Ukraine
“For now, the fear part of the equation which sent stocks lower on Friday has eased a bit. War still hasn’t erupted between Russia and the West. Thankfully, we made it past the weekend without a major incident,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital, in emailed comments.
In data news, only a report on pending home sales in March at 10 a.m. Eastern time is likely to get attention. In February, pending home-sales fell 0.8%, marking an eight month of declines. Analysts at Daiwa Capital Markets said the U.S. housing sector recently has been disappointing in two ways: The longer-term recovery hasn’t been as strong as hoped and it recently has hit a soft patch.
“Activity has mounted only a modest recovery from the bust during the recession, deviating from its typical role as a leader in business expansions,” Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Capital Markets America, said in a note.
Later in the week, a trifecta of economic events and data is poised to set the trading tone. On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to announce another $10 billion of tapering, while U.S. GDP data the same day probably will show the economy expanded 1% in the first quarter. On Friday, nonfarm-payrolls data is the main event, and is forecast to show that more than 200,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in April.
The week also is packed with earnings reports. Ahead of the opening bell on Monday, Charter Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR) reported a net loss of 35 cents a share on revenue of $2.2 billion. Analysts expected a profit of 10 cents. Shares were 1.5% higher, seemingly on news that Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) plans to sell nearly four million extra subscribers in a two-staged deal with Charter Communications — representing a consolation prize for Charter’s eight-month pursuit of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC) .
Tornado touches down in North Carolina
Raw video shows a tornado touching down in eastern North Carolina. Several tornadoes struck the region on Saturday, damaging more than 200 homes and injuring more than a dozen people. Photo: YouTube/Hunter Pridgen
Franklin Resources Inc. (NYSE:BEN) reported second-quarter earnings of 89 cents a share, in line with expectations. Shares fell 1.4% in premarket.
After the closing bell, Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $1.30 a share on revenue of $1.24 billion.
Allergan Inc. (NYSE:AGN) could also be active in Monday’s trade after Stifel Research cut the pharma firm to hold from buy.
In other financial markets, Asian bourses closed mostly lower , while European stocks posted broad-based gains. Metals were mixed (CNS:GCM4) , and oil futures (NMN:CLM4) advanced. The dollar weakened against most other major currencies.