US STOCKS-Wall St to rise as Syria reassessed, caution lingers
* Oil prices dip, remain near recent multi-month highs
* Guess shares rally after strong sales
* Vodafone in talks with Verizon to sell out of U.S. venture
* Fast-food workers plan strikes over wages
* Futures up: Dow 52 pts, S&P 5 pts, Nasdaq 13 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to rise at the open on Thursday on growing signs a timeline for launching a Western military strike on Syria could be delayed, though caution lingered across markets.
Any retaliation over the Syrian government's alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians could be complicated, not only by the U.N. weapons inspectors' continued presence in Syria, but by the Obama administration's efforts to coordinate with international partners and growing demands for consultation with U.S. lawmakers.
Futures barely reacted to data that showed the U.S. economy grew more quickly than expected in the second quarter thanks to a surge in exports.
The strong numbers, alongside data suggesting a strengthening in job gains in August, could bolster the case for the Federal Reserve to wind down a major economic stimulus program that has been a pillar of the recent rally in equities.
"We're at a point where good data is not so good news because it gives the Fed freedom to taper," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois.
"Syria is the big story probably into next week," he said. "There's a lot of uncertainty as Western powers have taken a step back, so the market is encouraged of some stepping back from the brink."
Adding to the uncertainty, Russia, Syria's powerful ally, is sending two warships to the eastern Mediterranean, according to Interfax news agency.
S&P 500 futures rose 5 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 rose 52 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 13 points.
Brent crude fell 0.6 percent as traders reassessed supply risks emerging in the Middle East, but remained its highest since February.
US Airways Group Inc, American Airlines and the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday they were open to settling a court fight over whether the two companies should be allowed to merge. US Airways shares rose 3.5 percent in premarket trading.
U.S.-traded shares of Vodafone Group PLC rose 8.5 percent in premarket trading after the company said it was in talks with Verizon Communications to sell its 45 percent stake in their U.S. joint venture, Verizon Wireless, for what a Bloomberg report said would be about $130 billion. Verizon shares rose 7.5 percent.
Guess Inc shares jumped 15.7 percent in premarket trading a day after its second-quarter results beat Wall Street estimates, bucking a trend of falling sales for apparel retailers.
Fast-food workers from McDonald's, Wendy's Restaurants, Burger King Worldwide and others across the United States are expected to stage their largest strike to date on Thursday in an almost year-long campaign to raise wages in the service sector.
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