US STOCKS-Futures imply 3rd day of gains, Oracle rallies

Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:24am EST

* Oracle gains in premarket, software sales boost profit

* S&P 500 on track to extend best two-day run in a month

* Banking and energy shares may lead on any "cliff" progress

* Knight Capital rallies, to sell itself to Getco: sources

* Futures up: Dow 37 pts, S&P 2.7 pts, Nasdaq 10.5 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday as the latest offers in ongoing U.S. budget negotiations underlined hopes for a deal, while technology shares were lifted by strong results from Oracle.

* The S&P 500 is on track to extend its best two-day run in a month, a sign that investors are looking past the "fiscal cliff," a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts many fear could push the economy into recession if they take effect next year.

* President Barack Obama's most recent offer to Republicans in the ongoing fiscal talks made concessions on taxes and social programs spending, amid concerns from Senate Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner said he remained hopeful about an agreement, though the offer was "not there yet."

* Tech shares will be in focus a day after Oracle Corp reported earnings that beat expectations on strong software sales growth. Shares rose 2.1 percent to $33.56 in premarket trading.

* S&P 500 futures rose 2.7 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 added 37 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 10.5 points.

* Equities have struggled to gain ground in recent weeks amid signs there was little room for compromise between the two political parties. Markets have been supported by any indication agreement might be reached, with banks and energy shares- groups that outperform during periods of economic expansion - leading gains.

* The S&P rose 2.3 percent over the past two sessions, the first time it has notched two straight days of 1 percent gains since late July. However, trading volume has been light ahead of the holidays and as some caution remains over the cliff.

* November housing starts are scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast 873,000 housing starts in November versus 894,000 in October.

* Companies scheduled to report quarterly results include General Mills Inc and Jabil Circuit.

* FexEx Corp is also on tap to report, and the package shipping company, which is viewed as a proxy for economic activity, is seen posting a decline in its profit as corporate customers choose slower and cheaper ways of shipping goods, translating into lower earnings for the company.

* Knight Capital Group agreed to sell itself to Getco Holding Company LLC, beating rival high-speed trading firm Virtu Financial LLC, according to two people close to the negotiations. Shares of Knight rose more than 6 percent in premarket activity before trading was suspended.

* Industrial machinery maker SPX Corp is closing in on a roughly $4.2 billion deal to buy rival Gardner Denver Inc , as it makes progress in securing financing, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

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