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US STOCKS-Wall St set to rise at open; BlackBerry plummets

Chuck Mikolajczak
Monday, 4 Nov 2013 | 9:11 AM ET

* BlackBerry abandons sale plans, to replace CEO

* Weyerhaeuser to sell homebuilding unit for $2.7 bln

* U.S. factory orders data on tap

* Futures up: Dow 52 pts, S&P 6.4 pts, Nasdaq 17 pts

NEW YORK, Nov 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a higher open on Monday, putting the S&P 500 on track to build on its latest record high after four straight weeks of gains.

Still, U.S.-listed shares of Blackberry tumbled 21.1 percent to $6.13 in premarket trade after the smartphone maker said it was abandoning a plan to sell itself and instead, would replace its chief executive officer.

The benchmark S&P index has risen 4.2 percent over the past four weeks as the partial U.S. government shutdown in October pushed back expectations for the Federal Reserve to begin curtailing its stimulus measures into the first quarter of 2014.

Indeed, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told CNBC television the Fed should not rush a decision to scale back its asset purchase program because of low inflation.

But recent manufacturing data has been stronger than expected, lending weight to the possibility the economy could handle an earlier-than-expected tapering of the central bank's bond-buying program.

"In some ways you could say 'mission accomplished' for the Fed," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

"By broaching that (tapering) story early, yes they did have a fall off but now the markets adapted to it - they know it must end and it probably will end soon."

Economic data expected on Monday includes August and September factory orders at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect August factory orders to rise 0.3 percent versus a 2.4 percent drop in July orders while September orders are expected to be up 1.7 percent.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.4 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 52 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 17 points.

Weyerhaeuser Co is selling its homebuilding division to Tri Pointe Homes Inc in a $2.7 billion deal that will leave Weyerhaeuser shareholders in control of one of the 10 largest homebuilders in the United States.

Kellogg Co advanced 1.5 percent to $63.25 in light premarket trade after the cereal maker reported a 3 percent rise in quarterly profit, and said it would slash 7 percent of its workforce by 2017.

With about 74 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported results so far, 68.5 percent have topped Wall Street's expectations, above the long-term average of 63 percent, while just 53.3 percent have topped revenue forecasts, below the 61 percent average since 2002, Thomson Reuters data through Friday showed.

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