* Oracle gains in premarket, software sales boost profit
* S&P 500 on track to extend best two-day run in a month
* Banking and energy shares may lead on any "cliff" progress
* Knight Capital rallies, to sell itself to Getco: sources
* Futures up: Dow 37 pts, S&P 2.7 pts, Nasdaq 10.5 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Dec 19 U.S. stock index futures rose
on Wednesday as the latest offers in ongoing U.S. budget
negotiations underlined hopes for a deal, while technology
shares were lifted by strong results from Oracle.
* The S&P 500 is on track to extend its best two-day run in
a month, a sign that investors are looking past the "fiscal
cliff," a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts many fear
could push the economy into recession if they take effect next
* President Barack Obama's most recent offer to Republicans
in the ongoing fiscal talks made concessions on taxes and social
programs spending, amid concerns from Senate Democrats. House
Speaker John Boehner said he remained hopeful about an
agreement, though the offer was "not there yet."
* Tech shares will be in focus a day after Oracle Corp
reported earnings that beat expectations on strong
software sales growth. Shares rose 2.1 percent to $33.56 in
* S&P 500 futures rose 2.7 points and were above 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 added 37
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 10.5 points.
* Equities have struggled to gain ground in recent weeks
amid signs there was little room for compromise between the two
political parties. Markets have been supported by any indication
agreement might be reached, with banks and energy shares- groups
that outperform during periods of economic expansion - leading
* The S&P rose 2.3 percent over the past two sessions, the
first time it has notched two straight days of 1 percent gains
since late July. However, trading volume has been light ahead of
the holidays and as some caution remains over the cliff.
* November housing starts are scheduled for release at 8:30
a.m. (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast 873,000
housing starts in November versus 894,000 in October.
* Companies scheduled to report quarterly results include
General Mills Inc and Jabil Circuit.
* FexEx Corp is also on tap to report, and the
package shipping company, which is viewed as a proxy for
economic activity, is seen posting a decline in its profit as
corporate customers choose slower and cheaper ways of shipping
goods, translating into lower earnings for the company.
* Knight Capital Group agreed to sell itself to
Getco Holding Company LLC, beating rival high-speed trading firm
Virtu Financial LLC, according to two people close to the
negotiations. Shares of Knight rose more than 6 percent in
premarket activity before trading was suspended.
* 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.