US STOCKS-M&A flurry pushes futures higher

Mon May 17, 2010 8:02am EDT

* Merger activity picks up, offsets Euro jitters

* Lowe's tops estimates, outlook light

* Futures: S&P up 3 pts, Dow up 11 pts, Nasdaq up 5.25 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]

BY Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks futures rose on Monday as a fresh wave of mergers and acquisitions helped dissipate worries over the impact of heavy euro-zone debt loads on a global recovery.

"A sprinkling of M&A activity is sugar-coating the bitter pill Europe has had to offer," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.

"Emotions are running high, and at any given moment that pendulum can yield a wide array of results. There seems to be a renewed confidence in the ability of Europe to avert the most feared of disasters."

Hospital operator Universal Health Services Inc (UHS.N) said it would buy Psychiatric Solutions Inc PSYS.O, which operates mental health facilities, for about $2 billion in cash plus the assumption of about $1.1 billion in debt.

Psychiatric Solutions gained 0.4 percent to $32.75 in light premarket trade, while Universal Health was up about 5 percent to $40.90. For details, see [ID:nSGE64G09E]

Astellas Pharma Inc (4503.T), Japan's No.2 drugmaker, agreed to buy U.S. biotech OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc OSIP.O for $4 billion in cash in a sweetened bid that would add OSI's blockbuster cancer drug Tarceva to its line-up. OSI shares shed 4.2 percent to $57.30. [ID:nTOE64G012]

GLG Partners Inc GLG.N surged 51.2 percent to $4.40 after it agreed to be acquired by rival hedge fund firm Man Group PLC (EMG.L). [ID:nLDE64G0EN]

And private equity firm Apollo Global Management is in talks to buy U.S. packaging maker Pactiv Corp PTV.N, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources. [ID:nSGE64G065]

S&P 500 futures SPc1 rose 3 points 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 DJc1 added 11 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 gained 5.25 points.

Lowe's Cos Inc (LOW.N) slipped 2 percent to $25.55 premarket after the home improvement retailer reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit, but forecast second-quarter earnings below estimates. [ID:nN17148997]

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), the world's largest memory chipmaker, is doubling projected capital spending this year to make more chips and flat screens. [ID:nTOE64F015]

Data due later Monday includes the New York Federal Reserve's Empire State Manufacturing Survey for May and the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo May housing market index.

European shares rose nearly 1 percent Monday morning, with BP Plc (BP.L)(BP.N) leading energy shares higher after it said it made progress containing an oil spill. Persistent worries about euro-zone sovereign debt sent the euro EUR= tumbling to a 4-year low. [ID:nLDE64G0BJ] (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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