* Movement in fiscal cliff negotiations begins
* Apple falls as Citigroup cuts rating for iPhone maker
* Futures: S&P up 1.6 pts, Dow up 19 pts, Nasdaq down 4.5
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Dec 17 U.S. stock index futures were
mixed on Monday as investors were encouraged by signs of
movement on "fiscal cliff" negotiations over the weekend, but
Apple was likely to weigh on the market.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner edged slightly closer
to President Barack Obama's key demands as they try to avert the
tax hikes and spending cuts that are set to take effect in the
Sources familiar with the talks confirmed that Boehner
proposed extending low tax rates for everyone who has earned
less than $1 million, and rates would rise for wages above that.
But Boehner's new positions were still far from those held by
"It does solidify that a deal is very close and it could be
announced by the end of this week," said Peter Cardillo, chief
market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. "We
could be surprised. We could actually have a Santa gift that a
deal has been reached."
Investors will get a report on manufacturing in the New York
region at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT). The pace of activity is expected
to have improved in December but still show a contraction.
Uncertainty over when and if a federal budget deal will be
done has kept investors cautious in what is normally a quiet
trading period heading into year-end.
Investors are worried the economy could slide back into
recession if the full brunt of the tax and spending changes is
allowed, though most expect a deal will eventually be reached.
Apple Inc was down 1.5 percent at $502.35 in
premarket trading as Citigroup cut its rating to 'neutral' from
'buy' and slashed its price target to $575 from $675. The stock
had earlier been indicated to open below $500, which would be
the first time since February.
Apple shares have tumbled nearly 30 percent in about three
months, losing 3.8 percent on Friday alone, helping lead the
overall market lower.
The tech giant said it sold more than 2 million of its new
iPhone 5 smartphones in China during the three days after its
launch there on Friday, but the figures did not ease worries
about stiffer competition.
S&P 500 futures rose 1.6 points and were above fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 19
points but Nasdaq 100 futures fell 4.5 points.
Sprint Nextel Corp raised its offer for Clearwire Corp
by 7 cents per share to buy the rest of the wireless
service provider for $2.2 billion. Clearwire tumbled 9.2 percent
to $3.06, while Sprint was up 1.4 percent at $5.63 in light
American International Group Inc may raise as much
as $6.5 billion from the sale of its remaining stake in AIA
Group Ltd, exiting a business the U.S. insurer started nearly
100 years ago. AIG was up 1.9 percent at $34.59.
Networking equipment company Cisco Systems Inc has
hired Barclays to sell its Linksys home router unit, a
report said on Sunday.