* Weak China data raises expectations for stimulus
* Ukraine conflict continues, Russia seizes marine base
* Herbalife rallies, Icahn to get more reps on board
* Futures up: Dow 25 pts, S&P 3.9 pts, Nasdaq 9 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 24 U.S. stock index futures
edged higher on Monday as a weak reading on Chinese
manufacturing raised hopes that the Chinese government would
issue new stimulus to combat slowing momentum, though ongoing
tensions in Ukraine weighed on sentiment.
* Recent momentum on Wall Street has been to the upside,
with the S&P 500 hitting an intraday record on Friday,
though it subsequently ended the day lower. Equities have been
lifted by some positive domestic data, and a belief that the
biggest East-West conflict since the Cold War won't escalate.
* Concerns about the region continued on Monday as Russian
troops seized a Ukrainian marine base in Crimea, the latest in a
confrontation that has prompted the United States and European
Union to respond with personal sanctions against some of Russian
President Vladimir Putin's political and business allies.
* While few U.S. companies have excessive exposure to the
region, investors are concerned about the potential economic
fallout of any further escalation in tensions.
* China's manufacturing engine contracted in the first
quarter of 2014, according to the flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing
Managers' Index. The report came in below expectations but
raised hopes for new stimulative measures.
* Accommodative monetary policies from the U.S. Federal
Reserve have fueled market gains for months, though the central
bank has gradually been withdrawing stimulus. Last week,
concerns mounted after Fed Chair Janet Yellen raised the
possibility of an earlier-than-expected increase in interest
* S&P 500 futures rose 3.9 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 25
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9 points.
* Both the Dow and S&P closed their third positive
week of the past four last week, while the Nasdaq has been up
for six of the past seven weeks.
* Investors are looking ahead to the final March reading on
manufacturing from financial data firm Markit. The report is
scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET (1345 GMT) and is seen
slowing slightly from the previous month.
* Herbalife Ltd said it would allow three more
representatives of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, the
company's biggest shareholder, to join its board. Shares of the
nutrition and weight-loss company jumped 8 percent to $53.50 in
* The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple Inc
was in talks with Comcast Corp to enter a deal for a
streaming-television service that would allow Apple set-top
boxes to bypass congestion on the web. The companies declined to
comment on the report.
* Nokia Corp said it doesn't expect to close the
sale of its phone business to Microsoft until April as
talks with Asian regulators drag on, fuelling speculation it may
have to make more concessions to get the deal done. U.S. shares
of Nokia rose 3 cents to $7.20 in premarket trading.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)