* Coach advances dividend pay date to Dec. 27
* Cerberus may join Virtu bid for Knight Capital -WSJ
* Futures: Dow up 4 pts, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 3 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Dec 4 U.S. stocks were set to open
little changed on Tuesday as the market remains hostage to
negotiations in Washington on how to avert a "fiscal cliff" that
could push the U.S. economy into recession.
Republicans in Congress proposed steep spending cuts to
bring down the budget deficit on Monday but gave no ground on
President Barack Obama's call to raise taxes on the wealthiest
Americans, and the proposal was quickly dismissed by the White
Headlines about the back-and-forth preliminary proposals by
Republicans and Democrats have fixated the market. Still, many
investors expect the two sides to come up with a deal before the
year-end deadline, which could trigger a rally in equities.
"Support (for the market) is based on a belief that
Washington will come to some agreement before we go over the
fiscal cliff," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard
Capital Markets in New York.
He said that while politicians are concerned with showing a
hard line in public, there is hope "their staffers are looking
for middle ground."
Hogan added, "On the first show of flexibility from either
side, we'll get a relief rally."
Obama will meet with U.S. governors at the White House on
Tuesday to talk about the fiscal cliff, a $600 billion package
of tax hikes and federal spending cuts that would begin Jan. 1.
The president is also expected to talk about the fiscal
cliff during an interview scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (1730 GMT) on
Coach became the latest company to advance the date
of its next dividend payment. Expectations of higher taxes on
dividends kicking in in 2013 have pushed many companies to pay
special dividends this year or advance their next pay-back to
S&P 500 futures dipped less than a point and were
flat in terms of 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 18 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3
The light calendar for data includes the Institute for
Supply Management-New York release of its November index of
regional business activity at 9:45 a.m. (1445 GMT).
Toll Brothers shares rose 4.2 percent in premarket
trading after the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder reported a
higher quarterly profit and said new orders rose sharply.
MetroPCS Communications shares dropped 6 percent
premarket after Sprint Nextel appeared unlikely to make a
counter-offer for the wireless service provider.
Cerberus Capital Management is in talks to join Virtu
Financial's bid for U.S. brokerage Knight Capital Group,
the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with
the discussions. Knight became a takeover target after a trading
glitch left it nearly bankrupt earlier his year.
Shares of Pep Boys-Manny Moe and Jack were down 8.7
percent in premarket trading a day after the release of the auto
parts retailer's results.
U.S. stocks fell on Monday as disappointing numbers on U.S.
factory activity overshadowed optimism about China's economic