* Hillshire to buy Pinnacle Foods for $6.6 billion
* IBM CEO says company is facing a "rocky time": NYT
* Ukraine situation remains in focus after referendum
* Futures up: Dow 51 pts, S&P 6.9 pts, Nasdaq 18.5 pts
(Updates prices, adds Tesaro news)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, May 12 U.S. stock index futures
pointed to a higher open on Monday, putting the S&P 500 within
striking distance of record levels, though geopolitical concerns
in the Ukraine could cap gains.
* In Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels voted in favor of self-rule
in eastern regions of the country in a referendum dismissed by
Kiev and Western governments as illegal. Separately, the
European Union is set to step up pressure on Russia by taking
steps to extend sanctions to companies, as well as individuals.
* In the latest deal news, Hillshire Brands Co
agreed to buy Pinnacle Foods Inc for about $6.6 billion.
Pinnacle jumped 20.5 percent to $36.70 in premarket trading
while Hillshire was up 3 percent at $38.05.
* The board of Allergan rejected an unsolicited
proposal from Valeant, saying it significantly
undervalued the company.
* Separately, the head of research at Pfizer Inc
pressed the case for the company's plan to buy AstraZeneca
for $106 billion, saying a deal wouldn't disrupt drug
research. U.S. shares of Astra rose 1.1 percent to
$78.11 before the bell while Dow component Pfizer was up 0.6
percent at $29.20.
* Virginia Rometty, chief executive of IBM Corp,
told the New York Times the company was facing a "rocky time"
but has a clear vision on how to pursue another generation of
* S&P 500 futures rose 6.9 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 51
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 18.5 points.
* The S&P 500 has found support at its 50-day moving
average, bouncing off that level on Friday and ending right
above its 14-day moving average, a sign of improving positive
momentum. The benchmark index is about 1 percent from a record
intraday high reached on April 4.
* Tesaro Inc shares jumped almost 21 percent to $29
in premarket trading after the company said its experimental
drug for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and
vomiting met the main goal in a third late-stage trial.
* Wall Street was volatile last week, with the Dow ending at
a record close on Friday but the Nasdaq suffering its biggest
weekly percentage decline in a month. In addition, the Russell
2000 of small-cap companies flirted with correction
territory, dropping nearly 10 percent from its all-time closing
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)