U.S. stock index futures point to flat to higher open

LONDON Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:43pm IST

LONDON Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a mixed open on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 up 0.1 and 0.2 percent respectively by 0856 GMT, while those for Dow Jones were steady.

* The U.S. stock market closed higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 adding 13.18 points, or 0.88 percent, to 1,515.60 , after comments from Fed officials allayed fears that the central bank would curtail stimulus measures.

* Prospects of continued stimulus also lifted Asian and European equity markets on Monday, with the EuroSTOXX 50 benchmark of euro zone blue chips up 0.7 percent. However, uncertainty over the outcome of Italian elections, which close on Monday, kept a lid on the gains.

* With days left before $85 billion is slashed from U.S. government budgets, the White House on Sunday issued more dire warnings about the harm the cuts will do to Americans. But Republicans, who advocate budget cuts, said the warning was overplayed and called on President Barack Obama to apply what is known as the "sequester" in a more careful way, rather than slashing budgets across the board.

* A relatively light calendar features the Chicago Fed's national activity index for February at 1330 GMT, alongside earnings from Autodesk Inc and Lowe's Companies.

* Barnes & Noble Inc Chairman Leonard Riggio is considering a bid for the company's bookstore business, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the situation.

* Disney's movie "Brave" won the Oscar on Sunday for Best Animated Feature.

* BlackRock Inc., the world's largest money manager, has got approval from the U.S. securities regulator to list a copper-backed exchange-traded fund, potentially getting the jump on JPMorgan, whose listing of a similar product has been delayed by industry objections.

* Knight Capital Group, which recently agreed to be bought for $1.4 billion by Getco Holding Co, has struck a deal to sell its credit-brokerage unit to Stifel Financial Corp , according to a person familiar with the matter.

* Hewlett-Packard Chairman Ray Lane and fellow board members plan to meet with about 20 of the computer maker's big investors Monday in hopes of heading off a campaign to unseat Lane and two other directors, the Wall Street Journal reports.

* Office Depot Inc said late on Friday that following talks with the largest holder of its common stock, Starboard Value LP, it is extending the deadline for nominating candidates for its board at its annual meeting.

* Dick's Sporting Goods Inc shares could rise 23 percent within the next year if the largest publicly traded U.S. sporting goods retailer continues to boost profit at a mid-teens percentage rate, Barron's said.