US futures signal neutral to mildly higher open; Transocean gains
U.S. stock index futures pointed to a neutral to mildly higher open on Wall Street on Monday as Wall Street looked to earnings reports this week from retailers including Wal-Mart Stores and Macy's to get a read on consumer spending.
Transocean gained in in pre-market trading after the offshore-rig contractor said it came to an agreement with Carl Icahn to pay a dividend and cut the number of board seats. ViroPharma rallied after Ireland's Shire agreed to pay about $4.2 billion to acquire the specialty drug maker.
U.S. stocks climbed on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at a record, after a positive jobs report had investors considering whether the U.S. economy was strong enough to handle a reduced stimulus program.
"Given the volatility of the figures in recent months, we suspect that Fed officials will not get overly excited about the latest results," economists Chris Scicluna and Emily Nicol from Daiwa Capital Markets, said. "The favorable results on job growth increase the probability of the Fed tapering its asset purchase program, but we still see a shift in December as a low-probability event."
This week, investors will be closely watching the testimony of Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen on Thursday during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.
Yellen has been nominated to replace Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term expires in January, and while she is expected to be confirmed, traders will fix on her comments to see where she stands on monetary policy and how she views the economy.