* U.S. market tracks rise in Europe on M&A activity
* Verizon/AT&T may make break-up bid for Vodafone -report
* February factory orders expected to show solid rise
* Futures up: Dow 59 pts, S&P 7.2 pts, Nasdaq 19.25 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, April 2 U.S. stock index futures rose
on Tuesday, pointing to a rebound from the previous session and
tracking a rise in European equities.
The gain in futures puts the S&P 500 again within striking
distance of its all-time intraday high of 1,576.09, an important
psychological level for investors. Last week, the benchmark
index set an all-time closing high.
While moves may be limited this week ahead of the U.S.
monthly payrolls report on Friday, investors will be looking to
the latest economic data for signs of economic strength.
February factory orders are scheduled for release at 10 a.m.
(1400 GMT) and are seen rising 2.9 percent, compared with a 2
percent drop in the previous month.
The Institute for Supply Management-New York's March index
of regional business activity is due at 9:45 a.m. U.S. car
companies will report March sales on Tuesday, and a Reuters poll
forecast total vehicle sales at 15.32 million last month.
"We've had significant pockets of strength in the data, but
also some weakness. If we can see some broad-based expansion of
growth that would be very beneficial for markets," said Oliver
Pursche, president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services in
Suffern, New York.
S&P 500 futures rose 7.2 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 59
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 19.25 points.
A weak reading on U.S. manufacturing sparked a decline in
Monday's session, though other indicators have pointed to a
strengthening U.S. economy and helped push both the Dow and S&P
to record highs last week.
Telecommunication shares will be in focus. Verizon
Communications and AT&T have been working together
on a breakup bid for British mobile operator Vodafone
, according to the Financial Times' Alphaville blog.
Verizon and AT&T, both Dow components, were not active in
premarket trading, but U.S. shares of Vodafone gained 4.7
percent to $29.67 before the bell. The stock was one of the
biggest boosts among European shares, which rose 1
European shares bounced back after a two-week slide and with
a blue chip index breaking above a resistance level, as the M&A
activity helped lift sentiment.
The S&P is up 9.5 percent so far this year while the Dow is
up more than 11 percent. While investors view market momentum as
positive, many are also calling for a pullback given the size
and swiftness of recent gains.
"We take money off the table on days when we see rallies of
about 1 percent," said Pursche. "We think things are getting
In company news, BGC Partners late Monday said it
would sell its eSpeed platform to Nasdaq OMX Group for
$750 million in cash. Shares of BGC soared 40 percent to $5.40
before the bell.
Healthcare stocks will also be in focus as planned cuts in
U.S. government payments for private Medicare Advantage insurers
did not materialize. Humana, which derives about
two-thirds of its revenue from Medicare Advantage business,
soared 9.6 percent to $82.20 in premarket trading.
Apple Inc edged lower before the market's open. On
Monday, the stock was the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and
Nasdaq 100 after Fidelity Contrafund, a $92 billion fund
that is the largest active shareholder in Apple, reported that
it cut its stake in the iPhone maker by 10 percent during the
first two months of 2013.