March 5, 2013 / 10:30 AM / in 5 years

U.S. stock index futures signal early gains

PARIS, March 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Tuesday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.23 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.21 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.3 percent at 1021 GMT.

* European shares gained ground in morning trade, with the benchmark index STOXX Europe 600 hitting its highest level since mid-2008, as investors bet major central banks will keep monetary policy loose at meetings this week.

* On the macro front, investors awaited February’s U.S. ISM non-manufacturing index, due at 1500 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a reading of 55.0 versus 55.2 in January.

* Markit’s Eurozone Composite PMI, a broad gauge of activity at thousands of companies across the 17-nation bloc, fell to 47.9 in February from 48.6 in January. The reading was better than expected, although still below the 50 mark dividing growth from contraction.

* Tension over the U.S. fiscal crisis eased on Monday as President Barack Obama called more opposition lawmakers to find a way to stop $85 billion in damaging budget cuts and congressional Republicans announced a plan to prevent a government shutdown.

* BP, which lost its first deal to drill for oil in Russia’s Arctic to ExxonMobil, tried to negotiate a new deal with Russian state oil company Rosneft and was again beaten to the punch by its U.S. rival.

* The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking additional details of AMR Corp and US Airways Group Inc’s proposed $11 billion merger, which aims to create the world’s largest airline.

* Japan’s aviation regulators said on Tuesday there are still “several steps” required before any battery fix for Boeing Co’s troubled Dreamliner jet can be approved. Boeing said this week it was ready to make fixes to its batteries if regulators approve the proposed solution.

* General Motors Co and its China joint ventures sold 215,070 vehicles in the country in February, down 10.6 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. automaker said on Tuesday. GM makes vehicles in China in partnership with FAW Group and SAIC Motor Corp.

* Impax Laboratories Inc said U.S. health regulators raised fresh concerns related to manufacturing practices at the drugmaker’s Hayward, California facility, sending its shares down more than 20 percent after the bell.

* U.S. stocks closed higher on Monday as investors staged a late-day rebound, extending a recent trend of buying on dips and pushing major indexes near all-time highs despite concerns about growth and China’s housing market.

* The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.16 points, or 0.27 percent, to 14,127.82 at the close. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 7.00 points, or 0.46 percent, to 1,525.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 12.29 points, or 0.39 percent, to end at 3,182.03.

* The S&P 500 has jumped about 7 percent so far in 2013 as investors continue to view equities as more attractively valued than other asset classes, allowing stocks to resist calls for a pullback even with few obvious catalysts to drive shares definitively higher.

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