* Fed meeting in view, investors seek stimulus clarity
* Dec New York manufacturing data on tap, seen rebounding
* Charter prepares offer letter for Time Warner Cable:
* Futures: Dow up 38 pts, S&P 500 and Nasdaq flat
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Dec 16 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Monday, suggesting investors were reluctant to
buy even after a steep decline last week, as they turned their
focus to an upcoming Federal Reserve policy meeting.
Equities are coming off their worst week in nearly four
months, a pullback that came on concerns the Fed may begin a
stimulus wind-down at its two-day policy-setting meeting that
ends Wednesday. The stimulus has been a major contributor to the
market's gains this year, and has been expected to keep a floor
under stock prices for as long as it continues.
Investors have been trying to gauge the timing of when the
central bank will start winding down its market-friendly bond
purchases, with many market participants expecting the Fed to
announce a tapering in March.
However, stronger economic data of late, including the
November payroll report, has led some to believe the tapering
will come earlier, as soon as at the Fed's meeting this week.
The Fed has said it will slow the program when certain economic
indicators meet its growth targets.
"Payrolls solidified the perception that the end of stimulus
is near," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital
LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
"While I don't expect any Fed changes this month, most
investors are hesitating ahead of the meeting. I don't think
we'll see major commitments on either side of the market until
A read on New York manufacturing is among the data on tap
for Monday, with the report scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m.
EST (1330 GMT). Manufacturing is seen rebounding in December.
November industrial output and capacity utilization data are
also on tap.
Overseas, European shares rose 0.7 percent after
Markit's Flash Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers' Index
ended 2013 at its highest level of the year.
S&P 500 futures were flat but remained 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 38
points and Nasdaq 100 futures were flat.
The S&P 500 fell below its 14-day moving average on
Wednesday and has not closed above it since, a sign of weak
near-term momentum. However, the benchmark index is less than 2
percent above its record closing high, indicating that recent
selling has not been panic-driven.
In company news, a source close to the matter told Reuters
that Charter Communications Inc was preparing to send
an offer letter to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc for
less than $135 a share. Time Warner closed Friday at $131.40.
Twitter Inc fell 1.2 percent in premarket trading
after both Wells Fargo and Suntrust downgraded the social media
Procter & Gamble plans to reorganize its overseas
business as part of Chief Executive A.G. Lafley's plans to cut
costs, according to a Bloomberg report that cited three
unidentified people briefed on the matter.
Wall Street closed flat on Friday, but all three major
indexes fell more than 1.5 percent last week, the largest weekly
percentage drop since August.