August 18, 2014 / 1:15 PM / 3 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St to open up as Ukraine worry lessens, M&A boost

* Dollar General offers to buy Family Dollar

* Russia says humanitarian convoy issue resolved, but no ceasefire

* Futures up: Dow 81 pts, S&P 9.5 pts, Nasdaq 18.75 pts (Updates prices)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Aug 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were poised for a higher open on Monday, as the threat of an escalation in Ukraine appeared to lessen and the latest flurry of merger action supported equities.

* Russia said all issues related to its humanitarian convoy to Ukraine had been resolved but said no progress has been made toward a ceasefire or political solution to the fighting in the east of the country after talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine on Sunday.

* The region remained unsettled as Ukraine accused pro-Russian rebels on Monday of hitting a refugee convoy of buses with rocket fire near the eastern city of Luhansk, but the separatists denied responsibility.

* Mergers and acquisitions continue to flourish and provide a lift to equities. Discount retailer Dollar General Corp offered to buy Family Dollar Stores Inc for $8.95 billion, trumping an offer by Dollar Tree Inc. Family Dollar shares gained 4.9 percent to $79.90 before the opening bell while Dollar General jumped 10.1 percent to $63.25.

* Sensors and electrical controls maker Sensata Technologies Holding NV said it would buy the Schrader group of companies for an enterprise value of $1 billion.

* Ingersoll-Rand Plc, a maker of heating and air conditioning systems, said it would buy Cameron International Corp’s centrifugal compression unit for $850 million.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 9.5 points and fair value - a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract - indicated a higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 81 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 18.75 points.

* In a relatively light week for economic data, investors will closely monitor the Aug. 21-23 annual meeting of top central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for possible insight about the path for monetary policy.

* Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting will be released on Wednesday.

* Earnings season will effectively draw to a close this week with results from retailers including Home Depot, Target Corp and Gap Inc.

* According to Thomson Reuters data through Friday, of the 466 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 68 percent have topped analyst expectations, besting the 63 beat rate since 1994 and the 67 percent rate for the past four quarters. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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