Stock Futures Advance as J.C. Penney, CBS Gain Ground

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were gaining ground Tuesday, pointing to a higher open on Wall Street as investors digest a raft of upbeat manufacturing sector data out of China and Europe on Monday and U.S. merger news. U.S. manufacturing numbers were expected on Tuesday.

In addition, it was looking less certain that the U.S. would launch a military attack against Syria in response to reports of chemical weapons usage in the country because of a lack of global support for the action. U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday will assess testimony from Secretary of State John Kerry explaining the necessity of military action.

Futures for the S&P 500 were adding on 13.25 points, or 13.28 points above fair value, to 1,644.5. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were advancing by 87 points, or 87.69 points above fair value, to 14,882. Futures for the Nasdaq were tacking on 21 points, or 21.09 points above fair value, to 3,094.5.

Major U.S. stocks dropped Friday as traders hesitated to make any major moves amid the session's thin volumes heading into the long Labor Day weekend and after tepid reports on U.S. consumers. The S&P 500 closed down 3.1% for August, the largest monthly drop since the index fell 6.3% in May 2012.

The Institute for Supply Management is expected to report at 10 a.m. EDT that its Manufacturing Index edged down to 54 in August from 55.4 in July, according to a poll of analysts by Thomson Reuters.

The Markit PMI manufacturing index for August is also expected Wednesday, scheduled for release at 8:58 a.m.

Also to be released at 10 a.m. are construction spending numbers for July. The Census Bureau is forecast to report that spending rose 0.3%, up from a decline of 0.6% in June.

J.C. Penney ( JCP ) was advancing 1.76% to $12.70 after Hayman Capital Management founder Kyle Bass revealed a 5.2% stake in the ailing department store operator.

CBS ( CBS) and Time Warner Cable ( TWC) have ended their payment dispute and programming resumed in millions of homes on Monday evening. CBS was rising 1.78% to $52.01.

Microsoft ( MSFT) is buying Nokia's ( NOK) devices and services business for €5.44 billion ($7.2 billion). Microsoft was declining by 5.09% to $31.67. Nokia American depositary receipts were surging more than 46% to $5.70 in premarket trading.

Microsoft will pay €3.79 billion ($5 billion) for the Nokia unit that makes mobile phones, including the line of Lumia smartphones that run Windows Phone software.

Verizon Communications ( VZ) late Monday confirmed the details of its $130 billion cash-and-stock agreement to buy a 45% stake in Verizon Wireless from U.K. partner Vodafone ( VOD). It's the biggest deal since Vodafone bought Germany's Mannesmann for $180.95 billion. Verizon was slipping 4.39% to $45.30 and Vodafone was off 1.45% to $31.88.

New York-based Verizon said it will pay Vodafone $58.9 billion in cash, funded, as expected, with a $61 billion bridge loan from a number of banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

In more deal news, Jarden ( JAH) has agreed to buyYankee Candle, the nation's largest maker of scented candles, for $1.75 billion in cash, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

AMC Entertainment, the second-largest movie theater operator in the U.S., said it plans to go public. AMC said it plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "AMC". AMC was purchased by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group last September in a $2.6 billion deal.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was dropping by 13/32, raising the yield to 2.839%. The dollar was rising 0.3% to $82.33 according to the U.S. dollar index.

The DAX in Germany was losing 0.27% and the FTSE 100 was behind by 0.08%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed ahead by 0.99% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan gained 2.99%.

October crude oil futures were falling by 46 cents to $107.19 a barrel. December gold contracts were shedding 50 cents to $1,395.60 an ounce.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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