US STOCKS-Futures modestly higher, Dow may surpass record

Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:41am EST

* Bond markets closed for holiday, damping stocks activity

* Transocean reaches deal with Icahn in proxy battle

* ViroPharma shares soar on acquisition news

* Indexes up: S&P 2.4 pts, Dow 23 pts, Nasdaq 2 pts

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, Nov 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Monday with the Dow index set for another record while trading volume was likely to be quiet due to the Veterans Day holiday.

Gains were likely to be capped as investors take a breather from a rally that has taken the S&P 500 higher for the fifth week in a row. The benchmark index rose on Friday after an unexpectedly strong payrolls report, supporting the view the U.S. economy is stronger than previously thought.

While the overall market has been on the rise, relative weakness was seen in technology and small cap stocks in recent weeks. The Russell 2000 index of mid- and small cap stocks rose 0.4 percent for the week while the Nasdaq lost 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 ended up 0.5 percent.

"We expect to see another upside attempt develop in the coming 5-10 trading days but continue to monitor the relative performance of the Russell 2000," which has been underperforming the S&P, said Robert Sluymer, analyst at RBC Capital Markets LLC in New York.

"Further relative deterioration would be a yellow flag for the broader 12-month equity rally."

Some investors are also concerned that the solid jobs report could prompt the U.S. Federal Reserve to start tapering its stimulus efforts earlier than expected. The market will look for more clues on Fed policy when Janet Yellen, nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.4 points and were slightly higher than 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 23 points and Nasdaq 100 futures up 2 points.

U.S. government offices and bond markets are closed on Monday for Veterans Day and no major data or earnings expected.

European shares edged higher as investors considered the implications of a strong U.S. jobs report. The FTSEurofirst 300 rose 0.1 percent at 1,296.86 points while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 firmed 0.2 percent to 3,039.90 points.

Transocean Ltd shares rose 2 percent in premarket trade after the company said it reached an agreement with Carl Icahn in which the offshore driller will pay out a dividend and reduce the number of board seats.

Tesla Motors Inc shares were up 1.9 percent in premarket trade after the stock suffered its worst week since early 2012.

Apple Inc is developing new iPhone designs, including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, Bloomberg reported on Sunday, citing an unnamed person familiar with the plans. The stock was up 0.3 percent in premarket trade.

London-listed Shire is buying ViroPharma for $4.2 billion, attracted by a pipeline of potentially lucrative drugs to treat rare diseases. ViroPharma shares jumped 26 percent in premarket trade.

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