* Geopolitical issues may be market's biggest driver
* MannKind signs agreement with Sanofi, shares jump
* Kinder Morgan up on $70 bln deal to consolidate assets
* Futures up: Dow 57 pts, S&P 8 pts, Nasdaq 20.5 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Aug 11 U.S. stock index futures were
higher on Monday, indicating that Friday's sharp rally could
continue as it appeared less likely that the tense situation
between Russia and Ukraine would escalate.
* The S&P 500 and Dow on Friday posted their best day since
March on news that Russia was ending military drills near the
Ukrainian border, a move that was seen as indicating Russia
would not send troops into Ukraine anytime soon. European shares
rose more than 1 percent on Monday.
* With earnings season nearly over, market action is likely
to see an outsized influence from geopolitical issues,
especially from the Middle East due to the region's impact on
the commodities markets.
* The United States recently launched air strikes in Iraq
targeting Islamic State fighters marching on the country's
Kurdish capital. The U.S. is also pushing for a new Iraq
government, which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been
battling to prevent, deploying forces across Baghdad as some
parliamentary allies sought a replacement.
* In the Middle East, Israel and the Palestinians agreed on
Sunday to an Egyptian proposal for a new 72-hour ceasefire in
* The CBOE Volatility index has been at relatively
elevated levels of late, closing above 15 every day this month.
While 15 is well below the VIX's long-term average of 20, it
follows a multi-month period where the so-called "fear index"
rarely closed above 13.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 8 points and were 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 e-mini futures
rose 57 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 20.5
* In company news, MannKind Corp rose 21 percent to
$9.82 in premarket trading after French drugmaker Sanofi
signed a worldwide licensing agreement with the
company worth up to $925 million. MannKind was the Nasdaq's most
active premarket mover.
* Kinder Morgan Inc on Sunday said it would put all
its publicly traded units under one roof in a $70 billion deal,
an amount including $27 billion in assumed debt. The company was
responding to investor concerns about its growth prospects and
complicated financial structure. Shares jumped 8 percent to $39
in premarket trading.
* Stocks that pay high dividends, including utility and
telecommunication names, may see increased demand as Treasury
yields fall. The utility sector is one of 2014's
strongest, up 8.8 percent as investors have sought more
defensive plays throughout the year.
(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)