MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Monday, March 21, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures rally; T-Mobile deal in focus

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By Simon Kennedy, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures pointed to strong gains for Wall Street Monday, with AT&T Inc. in focus after a $39 billion deal for rival T-Mobile USA, while oil prices rallied as air strikes continued against Libya.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!dy11m (DJM11 11,911, +112.00, +0.95%)  rose 110 points to 11,909 and those for the Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,289, +15.10, +1.19%)  gained 14.50 points to 1,288.70.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,249, +27.00, +1.22%)  were up 25.50 points at 2,247.

AT&T to tie up with T-Mobile for $39B

AT&T agreed to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in cash and stock, in a deal that combines the No. 2 and No. 4 U.S. wireless carriers. WSJ's Dennis Berman and Lauren Goode discuss whether the tie-up will pass regulatory scrutiny and who the winners and losers of the deal are.

U.S. stocks ended the week on a positive note Friday, though they finished well below their session highs, as investors tried to take stock of the risks from violence in Libya and Japan’s ongoing crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,859, +83.93, +0.71%)  closed up nearly 84 points, or around 0.7%.

Libya remained in the spotlight Monday after the U.S., U.K. and France launched air strikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces over the weekend.

The conflict pushed oil prices higher in electronic trading. Light crude for April delivery jumped $1.97 to $103.04 a barrel on Globex.

Japan, meanwhile, made progress in its efforts to bring its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant under control and has reportedly restored power to three of the plant’s reactors, though the cooling systems are not yet operational.

The big corporate news is AT&T’s /quotes/comstock/13*!t/quotes/nls/t (T 27.94, +0.20, +0.72%)  move to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom /quotes/comstock/11e!fdte (DE:DTE 10.91, +1.28, +13.31%)   /quotes/comstock/11i!dteg.y (DTEGY 13.58, +0.03, +0.22%)  for $39 billion in cash and stock in a deal that will create the country’s biggest wireless carrier. Read more on AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

“Corporate activity of this nature on this scale may give a boost to risk assets in the short term as it provides a welcome relief from all the negative news that has dominated the headlines recently,” said Gary Jenkins, head of fixed-income research at Evolution Securities.

Shares in AT&T rose nearly 1% in premarket trading, while Deutsche Telekom jumped nearly 14% in Frankfurt.

Sprint Nextel Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!s/quotes/nls/s (S 5.05, -0.01, -0.20%) , the current No. 3 operator, dropped 9% in premarket trading. Sprint is reportedly worried that the AT&T deal will damage its ability to compete by creating a market duopoly of AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!vz/quotes/nls/vz (VZ 35.84, +0.51, +1.44%) . Verizon shares gained 1.5% in premarket trade.

Meanwhile, shares in Apple Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 330.67, -3.97, -1.19%) , the maker of the iPhone, rose 1.7% in premarket trading.

Simon Denham, head of Capital Spreads, said in an email that Warren Buffett’s reported comment that Japanese stocks represent a buying opportunity is also helping spur buyers into action.

In other news, General Electric Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 19.25, +0.03, +0.16%)  is reportedly among the companies that have expressed an interest in ING Group NV’s /quotes/comstock/13*!ing/quotes/nls/ing (ING 12.23, +0.17, +1.41%)  U.S. online banking arm.

On the economic front, figures for existing home sales in February will be released at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Economists polled by MarketWatch were expecting sales of 5.1 million, down from the previous reading of 5.36 million.

The dollar gained ahead of the data, rising 0.9% against the yen to ¥81.308, while the euro was down 0.1% at $1.4164.

Among other stocks in focus, American International Group Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!aig/quotes/nls/aig (AIG 34.95, -0.75, -2.10%)  said late Friday it expects $1 billion of catastrophe losses in the first quarter, with $700 million coming from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Shares in the group were up 1.6% in premarket trading.

Tiffany & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!tif/quotes/nls/tif (TIF 57.29, +0.62, +1.09%)  was another early mover. The stock rose 5.1% ahead of the open after the jewelry group reported a fourth-quarter profit that topped market expectations.

In international markets, Deutsche Telekom led a 2.1% gain for Germany’s DAX 30 index /quotes/comstock/30p!dax (DX:DAX 6,797, +132.42, +1.99%) . Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed up 1.8%.

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London.

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