April 30, 2018 / 12:33 PM / 20 days ago

RPT-US STOCKS-Futures rise on strong earnings, M&A activity

(Repeats with no changes to text or headline)

* Futures up: Dow 0.38 pct, S&P 0.24 pct, Nasdaq 0.37 pct

By Sruthi Shankar

April 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Monday as strong earnings and a string of mergers lifted spirits, kicking off a busy week for inflation watchers.

Shares of oil refiner Andeavor jumped 18.5 percent in premarket trading after rival Marathon Petroleum agreed to buy the company for more than $23 billion. Marathon’s shares were down 1.3 percent.

Investors are also keeping an eye on the developments around the $26 billion takeover of U.S. wireless carrier Sprint by T-Mobile, announced on Sunday, which needs to clear five regulatory hurdles.

Sprint fell 13.1 percent and T-Mobile edged 2.8 percent lower.

Allergan Plc rose 1.2 percent after its quarterly profit topped Wall Street estimates, driven by higher sales of its medical aesthetics products.

McDonald’s, which is set to report before the opening bell on Monday, was up 1.3 percent.

At 7:25 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 93 points, or 0.38 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 6.5 points, or 0.24 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 24.5 points, or 0.37 percent.

“If the previous several weeks of earnings season are any indication, corporate results should continue to act as a buffer to any meaningful turn lower in equity markets,” noted Peter Kenney, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group, in New York.

“However, the principal threat to equity markets remains rising interest rates.”

The main U.S. indexes are on track to record their first monthly gain since January, as strong quarterly earnings take the lead even as investors weigh concerns about rising interest rates and inflation.

Warnings from some large U.S. manufacturers about escalating costs going forward had investors worried that the best was over for corporate America.

Of the 267 S&P 500 firms that reported first-quarter earnings as of Friday, 79.4 percent topped profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. That lifted the estimate for earnings growth to 24.6 percent from about 18 percent at the start of the season.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told Fox Business that U.S. President Donald Trump has not made any decision yet on tariff exemptions on metal imports.

The exemptions, which were granted to the European Union, NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, as well as Argentina, Brazil, Australia and South Korea, will expire on May 1.

Focus will be on the Federal Reserve, when it meets on May 1 and 2 to discuss monetary policy. The U.S. payrolls data for April is due on Friday.

On Monday, the Commerce Department will issue data on March personal consumption expenditure, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure.

It is likely to show a 0.4 percent rise in consumer spending in March, following an increase of 0.2 percent in February. The personal consumption expenditures price index, excluding the volatile food and energy components, is expected to show a 0.2 percent rise in March after a similar advance in February. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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