* Oracle gains in premarket, software sales boost profit
* S&P 500 on track to extend best two-day run in a month
* 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."
"Both Obama and Boehner have been making concessions,
suggesting a deal will get done before the deadline, resulting
in an acceleration in stock buying," said Adam Sarhan, chief
executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.
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
FedEx Corp reported second-quarter revenue that beat
expectations, but said its earnings in the quarter had been
impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Shares were slightly lower in
light premarket trading.
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.
The S&P has gained 2.3 percent over the past two sessions,
the first time it has notched two straight days of 1 percent
gains since late July. 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 gains.
"We've been breaking above levels of resistance, including
the 50-day moving average and the November high, so from a
technical standpoint we're seeing a lot of improvement," Sarhan
said. "We're set up for a strong 2013."
Trading volume has been light ahead of the holidays and as
some caution remains over the cliff. Equities have struggled to
gain ground in recent weeks amid signs there was little room for
compromise between the two political parties.
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.
General Mills Inc reported earnings that beat
expectations and raised its full-year profit view, citing a
recent acquisition which lifted sales.
Knight Capital Group agreed to be sold to Getco
Holding Company LLC in a deal valuing Knight at about $1.4
billion. Shares of Knight rose more than 6 percent in premarket
trading before being halted.
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.