LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat-to-higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, consolidating gains after the S&P 500’s best two-day run in a month.
* Futures for the S&P 500 were unchanged, while Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100 contracts rose 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, at 0924 GMT.
* Japan’s Nikkei jumped 2.4 percent to end above 10,000 for the first time in more than eight months on Wednesday on growing expectations of easier monetary policy under a new government.
* European shares continued to drift higher as expectations built that a budget deal in the United States is close, though traders reckoned any positive outcome is largely baked into the price.
* The U.S. Commerce Dept. releases housing starts and permits for November at 1330 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast 873,000 housing starts in November versus 894,000 in October, and a total of 875,000 building permits in November compared with 868,000 in the prior month.
* FedEx, the No. 2 U.S. package-delivery company, is due to report second-quarter results at 1230 GMT. It is expected to post earnings per share of $1.41 down from $1.57 one year earlier, as a weakening economy leads corporate customers to choose slower, cheaper and less profitable ways of shipping goods.
* 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.
* U.S. securities regulators on Tuesday outlined potential ways to reduce conflicts of interest at the country’s largest credit-rating agencies, Moody’s Corp, McGraw-Hill Cos Inc’s Standard & Poor‘s, and Fimalac SA’s Fitch.
* Google’s Motorola Mobility unit cannot assert a patent against Apple Inc which covers a sensor that stops phone users from dialing wrong numbers on touchscreen devices, a U.S. trade judge ruled.
* The Federal Trade Commission is unlikely to finish its investigation before January into whether Google Inc abused its power in the search market, the New York Times reported, citing people briefed on the investigation.
* Oracle Corp’s quarterly profit beat Wall Street expectations on strong software sales growth, suggesting that the approach of the “fiscal cliff” has yet to crimp corporate spending on technology.
* Pharma group Pfizer plans to cut about 20 percent of its sales force for primary-care drugs, Bloomberg News reported, as the pharmaceutical company copes with the loss of a patent for top-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor.
* Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable TV distributor in the United States, said on Tuesday it is planning to drop arts-focused cable channel Ovation, citing its low ratings relative to the cost of carrying the network.
* Accenture, the technology outsourcing and consulting company, reports first quarter results after the market close.
* The Dow Jones industrial average rose 115.57 points, or 0.87 percent, to 13,350.96 on Tuesday. The S&P 500 gained 16.43 points, or 1.15 percent, to 1,446.79. The Nasdaq Composite added 43.93 points, or 1.46 percent, to 3,054.53.