* US Airways and American approve merger
* Cisco shares slip as results hit by lower Europe revenue
* Berkshire and 3G Capital to buy Heinz, shares soar
* Futures off: Dow 62 pts, S&P 4 pts, Nasdaq 11 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 14 U.S. stock index futures fell
on Thursday in the wake of weaker-than-expected growth data from
Europe and Japan and a disappointing outlook from technology
bellwether Cisco Systems.
Though weakness in Europe has persisted over recent
quarters, underwhelming economic growth data from the region and
from Japan, which could impact global growth and U.S. corporate
profits, may spur profit-taking in U.S. equities.
The French and German economies shrank more than expected in
the fourth quarter of 2012, and a 0.6 percent contraction in the
euro zone was the steepest for the bloc since the first quarter
Japan's GDP shrank 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter,
crushing expectations of a modest return to growth and adding
weight to the new government's push for radical policy steps to
The S&P 500 is up 6.6 percent so far this year, though a
dearth of fresh incentives has kept trading thin over the past
"We've had a real absence of news in the marketplace and any
bit of information that suggests the recovery is not underway is
probably being given more significance that it might have," said
Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital
Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
He said that following a mild climb on the S&P 500, traders
were "cashing in a little bit."
Shrinking European economies translated to a 5-percent drop
in revenue from the region for Cisco Systems, which reported its
results Wednesday. The company's shares fell 1.6 percent in
S&P 500 futures fell 4 points and were below 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 fell 62
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 11 points.
H.J. Heinz Co shares jumped 20 percent in premarket
trading after it said that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway
and 3G Capital will buy the company for $72.50 a share,
or $28 billion including debt.
American Airlines and US Airways Group said they
plan to merge in a deal that will form the world's biggest air
carrier, with an equity valuation of about $11 billion. US
Airways shares rose 1.3 percent in premarket trading.
Nvidia shares fell 1.5 percent in premarket trading
after the chip maker's revenue outlook missed expectations on
Wednesday, pointing to a slowing PC industry and slower
production of tablets using its chips.
On the other hand, shares of the world's largest chip gear
maker Applied Materials rose Wednesday after the
closing bell following a better-than-expected earnings report
Best Buy shares fell 2.8 percent in premarket
trading; sources said on Wednesday the electronics retailer's
founder may scrap a buyout bid and instead line up investors to
take a minority position.