U.S. stock index futures signal flat to higher open

PARIS, April 11 Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:39am EDT

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PARIS, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat to higher open on Wall Street on Thursday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.13 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.22 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.04 percent at 0923 GMT.

* Asian and European shares rally on Thursday, mirroring strong gains on Wall Street in the previous session, buoyed by Japan's aggressive monetary easing and signs of a recovery in China.

* Shares in Yum Brands Inc will be in focus as the biggest foreign fast-food chain operator in China is in danger of breaking its 11-year streak of double-digit profit growth, scrambling to deal with food scares and bird flu in its most lucrative market. The group said in a filing Wednesday that the latest deadly avian flu outbreak would have a "significant, negative impact" on sales at KFC stores in China in April.

* Warehouse club chain Costco Wholesale Corp reported a 4 percent rise in March sales at stores open at least a year, missing analysts' expectations, due to lower fuel prices and a strong dollar, which hurt the value of its sales overseas.

* Protective Life Corp agreed to buy a portfolio of old policies from French insurer AXA SA's U.S. business for $1.1 billion, with the aim of squeezing more value out of them.

* Deutsche Telekom sweetened its terms on Wednesday for the proposed merger between T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS Communications by reducing the combined company's debt, bowing to pressure from activists and proxy advisory firms.

* Chesapeake Energy Corp has won the dismissal of a securities class action lawsuit over allegations the company misled investors about its financial condition. The lawsuit claimed that Chesapeake had failed to disclose financial obligations by the company and its former chief executive, Aubrey McClendon.

* Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company, said on Wednesday its production of oil and gas has declined from a relatively strong fourth quarter while work on two of its three biggest U.S. refineries cut into downstream performance.

* A federal judge on Wednesday approved a $115 million settlement between American International Group Inc shareholders and former CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg and other defendants over alleged improper accounting at the insurance giant.

* Microsoft Corp is developing a new lineup of Surface tablets, including a 7-inch version expected to go into mass production later this year, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the company's plans.

* Personal computer sales plunged 14 percent in the first three months of the year, the biggest decline in two decades of keeping records, as tablets continue to gain in popularity and buyers appear to be avoiding Microsoft Corp's new Windows 8 system, according to a leading tech tracking firm.

* Turkey's Denizbank, acquired last year by Russia's Sberbank, said on Thursday it had signed an agreement to buy Citibank's consumer banking business in Turkey, part of a Citi plan to shed assets worldwide.

* The Federal Reserve's massive bond-buying program could spark unwanted inflation unless the U.S. central bank is dexterous in how it pares back easing, a top Fed official who has long opposed the purchases warned on Wednesday.

* The International Energy Agency (IEA) trimmed its estimate for growth in oil demand in 2013, becoming the third of the world's top oil forecasters this week to predict weaker consumption due to subdued economic growth.

* On the macro front, investors will keep an eye on U.S. weekly jobless claims, due at 1230 GMT.

* U.S. stocks climbed 1 percent on Wednesday, with both the Dow and S&P 500 ending at historic highs as cyclical shares led the way higher for a second straight day.

* The S&P 500 finally joined the new all-time intraday high club, surging past a record set on Oct. 11, 2007. The index has struggled to breach the level of 1,576.09 for the past several weeks, but broke above it on Wednesday to rise as high as 1,589.07. The Dow also hit another intraday milestone, rising as high as 14,826.66. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson/editing by Chris Pizzey, London MPG Desk, +44 (0)207 542-4441)

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