Stock Futures Rise as Budget Talks Spur Optimism

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were strengthening Monday amid optimism about U.S. budget talks in Washington and financial aid prospects for Greece.

Upbeat earnings reports from Lowe's ( LOW) and Tyson Foods ( TSN) also were boosting investor confidence.

The markets, however, remained nervous about the escalating tensions between Israel and Gaza's Hamas.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising by 90 points, or 108.69 points above fair value, at 12,660. Futures for the S&P 500 were advancing by 11.60 points, or 14.32 points above fair value, at 1371. Futures for the Nasdaq were climbing by 24 points, or 24.89 points above fair value, at 2557.

Investors will be watching Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who on Tuesday is expected to speak at the Economic Club of New York where he could provide more guidance on the central bank's next steps after the expiration of Operation Twist.

"Attention remains centered on the fiscal cliff," said Michala Marcussen, global head of economics at Societe Generale. "Recent developments give grounds for some cautious optimism, but history suggests that politics can be notoriously fickle. Our base case remains that a temporary extension is voted before year-end with a final agreement in early 2013. This will lift uncertainty and remove a significant headwind to recovery."

The major U.S. stock averages finished higher Friday as investors were cheered by positive commentary coming out of initial fiscal cliff discussions between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.

The National Association of Realtors is expected to say at 10 a.m. EST that existing home sales were unchanged in October at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million.

The National Association of Home Builders housing market index is expected to remain unchanged at a level of 41.

"Activity in the housing market is now seen as a crucial area to gauge the efficacy of QE3," noted Geoffrey Yu and Gareth Berry, currency strategists at UBS. "In targeting MBS, market have widely acknowledged the Fed's success in unlocking access to the housing market, but so much of policy at this point still has absolute borrowing costs in mind, and any downside surprises in housing numberssuch as existing home sales will factor into the Fed's calculation in December."

The FTSE 100 in London was up by 1.23%, while the DAX in Germany was gaining 1.5%. Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to hold a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday about extending more financial aid to Greece.

Japan's Nikkei average finished higher by 1.43% Monday amid rising anticipation of an opposition party victory in December, which is expected to result in the push for monetary easing.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index settled up 0.49%.

Gold for December delivery was rising $9.20 at $1,723.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while January crude oil contracts were up $1.07 at $87.99.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling 10/32, boosting the yield to 1.613%. The dollar was down 0.22%, according to the U.S. dollar index .

In corporate news, Lowe's posted third-quarter results that exceeded forecasts as revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 1.8%.

The company posted earnings per share of 40 cents on revenue of $12.07 billion; analysts on average were expecting earnings of 35 cents a share in the third quarter on revenue of $11.91 billion.

Shares were popping by more than 4% in premarket trading Monday.

Cisco Systems ( CSCO), the networking giant, announced Sunday it was buying cloud computing company Meraki for $1.2 billion.

Meraki, based in San Francisco, will form Cisco's new Cloud Networking group, which will be led by Meraki CEO Sanjit Biswas.

Cisco shares were up more than 1%.

Republic Services ( RSG) shares were rising 0.84% as Cascade Investments raised its stake in the provider of services in the domestic non-hazardous solid waste industry to 23%.

BP's ( BP) American Depositary Receipts were rising more than 2% amid reports that the oil giant plans to spend as much as $5.9 billion repurchasing stock.

Retailer Urban Outfitters ( URBN) is expected to earn 41 cents a share in the third quarter on revenue of $692.4 million.

Shares were rising 0.80%.

Tyson Foods posted better-than-estimated fourth-quarter earnings as strength returned to its chicken business.

The meat producer posted earnings per share of 55 cents on revenue of $8.37 billion. Analysts, on average, predicted profit of 44 cents a share on revenue of $8.49 billion.

The Tyson board declared a 10-cent special dividend and a 25% increase on the company's regular dividend.

Shares were adding more than 3%.

News Corp ( NWSA) is expected to announce this week that it will acquire a 49% in the YES Network from the New York Yankees and its partners, according to Reuters, which cited a person with knowledge of the talks.

The deal would value the sports channel at $3 billion, Reuters said.

Shares were advancing 0.84%.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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