U.S. stock index futures signal early gains

PARIS Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:18am EST

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PARIS Dec 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.23 percent, Dow Jones futures 0.24 percent higher and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.12 percent at 1044 GMT.

* European stocks were steady on Friday morning, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index sitting a few points below an 18-month high hit earlier this week, as lower-than-expected German manufacturing sector figures eclipsed strong Chinese economic data.

* Markit's index tracking German manufacturing activity slipped to 46.3 in December from 46.8 the previous month, remaining well below the 50 threshold that divides growth from contraction and missing the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll for 47.2.

* China's HSBC flash purchasing managers' index for December rose to 50.9, a 14-month high and the fifth straight monthly gain, underlining a brighter outlook for the world's second-biggest economy.

* Apple Inc releases the iPhone 5 in China on Friday, which should give it some respite after a recent slide in its share of what is already the world's biggest smartphone market. But the company's longer-term hopes may depend on new technology being tested by China's top telecoms carrier.

* Sprint Nextel Corp's $2.1 billion offer to buy out Clearwire Corp appeared to be running into trouble on Thursday, as some shareholders said they wanted more money while Softbank Corp set a cap on how much Sprint could pay.

* Pfizer Inc's planned U.S. initial public offering (IPO) of its animal health unit Zoetis Inc is likely by January or February and raise about $4 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

* KKR & Co LP has jumped into the auction for the fibre-optics business being sold by Australian contractor Leighton Holdings Ltd, a source familiar with the process told Reuters, eyeing a business that analysts say could fetch as much as A$870 million ($918 million).

* Adobe Systems Inc, maker of Photoshop and Acrobat software, forecast full-year results below analysts' estimates but expects profit and earnings to grow from 2013 onwards. The company forecast adjusted earnings of about $1.40 a share on revenue of about $4.1 billion for 2013.

* Dutch chemicals group AkzoNobel is selling its struggling North American decorative paints arm to U.S. rival PPG Industries for $1.1 billion to focus on its larger European and faster-growing businesses.

* Bank of America Corp raised the stakes in its legal battle with bond insurer MBIA Inc on Thursday, saying MBIA was in default on some of its debt and filing a lawsuit related to changes in that debt.

* On the macro front, investors awaited a batch of U.S. indicators, including November industrial production, due at 1415 GMT, and Markit's flash manufacturing PMI for December, due at 1358 GMT.

* The S&P 500 ended a six-day winning streak on Thursday, retreating as worries intensified that Washington's "fiscal cliff" negotiations were dragging on with little progress.

* The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 74.73 points, or 0.56 percent, to 13,170.72 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 9.03 points, or 0.63 percent, to 1,419.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index slid 21.65 points, or 0.72 percent, to end at 2,992.16.

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