* Freeport-McMoRan Copper to buy Plains, McMoRan Exploration
* Freeport-McMoRan deals worth $9 bln in cash, stock
* US private sector adds fewer-than-expected jobs in Nov-ADP
* China Xi Jinping comments buoy economic recovery hopes
* Futures: S&P up 1.4 pts, Dow up 30 pts, Nasdaq down 1.5 pt
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Dec 5 Wall Street was set for a flat
open on Wednesday as a drop in shares of Freeport-McMoRan
premarket following acquisition announcements offset optimism
about a global economic recovery spurred by comments from
China's new leader.
Shares of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc took a
hit after the company said it was acquiring Plains Exploration &
Production Co and McMoRan Exploration Co in two
separate deals for $9 billion in cash and stock.
Freeport-McMoRan shares fell 13.2 percent to $33.25 in premarket
Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping said the country
would maintain its fine-tuning of economic policies in 2013 to
ensure stable economic growth. That sparked a rally in Chinese
shares. Among his key priorities, Xi listed tax reform,
urbanization and allowing the market to play a bigger role in
setting resource prices.
"Investors' bullish receptors were earlier tickled by
overnight events in China, where the new leadership announced a
drive towards 'urbanization', which means more infrastructure
investment," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at
Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
"At the same time, rules preventing insurance companies from
taking a larger stake in banking companies were relaxed."
Weighing on market sentiment was data that showed U.S.
private-sector employers added 118,000 jobs in November, shy of
Other data due later in the day include factory orders and
ISM's November non-manufacturing index, both at 10:00 a.m. ET
Freeport said it would buy Plains for $6.9 billion in cash
and stock. It would buy McMoRan Exploration for $2.1 billion
cash after taking into account the stake in McMoRan that
Freeport already owns.
Shares of McMoRan Exploration soared 75 percent to $14.81 in
premarket trading, and Plains Exploration & Production shares
also jumped 25 percent to $45.26.
Nokia is to partner with China Mobile,
the world's biggest operator, to launch a version of its
flagship Lumia smartphone tailored for the world's largest
market. U.S.-listed shares of Nokia rose
3.2 percent to $3.55 in premarket trading.
S&P 500 futures rose 1.4 points and were in line with
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 30
points, while Nasdaq 100 futures lost 1.5 points.
Travelers Companies Inc said its initial estimate of
losses from storm Sandy is about $650 million after tax. The
company intends to resume repurchases of its common shares that
had been temporarily suspended following the storm.
Pandora Media Inc lowered its fourth-quarter earnings
forecast, blaming a pull-back by advertisers on concerns about
the U.S. budget, but analysts suggested it was due more to
The U.S. Senate voted 98-0 on Tuesday to approve a
wide-ranging defense bill that authorizes $631.4 billion in
funding for the U.S. military, the war in Afghanistan and
Walt Disney gave a much needed boost to Netflix
, becoming the first major Hollywood studio to use the
video service to bypass premium channels like HBO that
traditionally controlled the delivery of movies to TV
The U.S. securities regulator is investigating a $10 million
stock sale in March by Steven Fishman, chief executive of
close-out retailer Big Lots Inc, who announced his
retirement on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing
a person familiar with the inquiry.
U.S. stocks finished slightly lower in quiet trading Tuesday
as the back-and-forth wrangling over the U.S. budget gave
investors little reason to act.