U.S. stock index futures signal lower open

PARIS, March 11 Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:01am EDT

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PARIS, March 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 down 0.2 percent, Dow Jones futures down 0.1 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.2 percent at 0846 GMT.

* European shares dipped in morning trade, drifting lower from near five-year highs hit last week, as Italy's credit downgrade and mixed macro data from China dampened investors' appetite for risky assets.

* The dollar hovered near a 3-1/2-year high against the yen and held an upper hand against other major currencies on Monday in the wake of surprisingly strong growth in U.S. employment, which added to optimism over recovery in the world's largest economy.

* M&A noise will remain at the forefront of investors minds, with the Times of India newspaper reporting that AT&T Inc is considering buying a 25 percent stake in India's Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, a telecommunications venture controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, for $3.5 billion.

* Merck & Co will be in the spotlight after data released on Saturday showed unexpected serious side effects arose in a huge study of a long-acting niacin drug aimed at raising good HDL cholesterol, possibly adding another nail to the coffin of niacin therapy for heart patients.

* Wall Street commodity revenues crashed last year to their lowest on record, as tighter regulation and limited price swings squeezed the once dominant traders of Goldman Sachs Group Inc , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley.

* On the macro front, investors awaited employment trend index for February, due at 1400 GMT, while on the earnings front, Urban Outfitters Inc is set to report results.

* U.S. stocks closed out a historic week with another day of gains on Friday, as the Dow hit yet another record closing high on a payrolls report that surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts.

* The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67.58 points, or 0.47 percent, to 14,397.07, another record closing high. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 6.92 points, or 0.45 percent, to 1,551.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 12.28 points, or 0.38 percent, to end at 3,244.37.

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