* Burger King profit jumps, shares follow
* Herbalife shares soar after Icahn discloses ownership
* Futures: Dow off 12 pts, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 2 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 15 Wall Street was set to open
little changed on Friday, continuing a trend this week of thin
trading and tight moves, with the S&P 500 struggling to extend
its weekly streak of gains to seven.
Slight declines in stock index futures were trimmed after
data showed manufacturing in New York state expanded in February
for the first time in seven months, boosted by a surge of new
The S&P 500, up 6.7 percent so far this year, is facing
strong technical resistance near the 1,525 level. But investors,
expecting the index to advance further in the quarter, have held
back from locking in profits.
A surge in merger and acquisition activity, with more than
$158 billion in deals announced so far in 2013, has given
support to the equity market as it points to healthy valuations
and bets on the economic outlook.
"No retracement of this move is positive; it shows
underlying support for this market," said Art Hogan, managing
director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.
He said the flurry of mergers and acquisitions should be
seen as a tailwind for the market.
"You don't go into M&A if you don't have a positive
outlook," Hogan said.
S&P 500 futures were unchanged but 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 12 points, and
Nasdaq 100 futures edged up 2 points.
Traders will eye the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan
Surveys of Consumers preliminary February consumer sentiment
index at 9:55 a.m. (1455 GMT). Consumer sentiment is expected to
be slightly higher at 74.8 in February, compared with 73.8 in
Herbalife shares soared 18.6 percent in premarket
trading a day after billionaire investor Carl Icahn said in a
regulatory filing that he now owns 13 percent of Herbalife and
was ready to put it in play.
Burger King Worldwide shares jumped 6.8 percent in
premarket trading after it beat estimates with a 94 percent rise
in fourth-quarter profit, thanks to new menu additions.