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US STOCKS-Wall St set to drift higher after Dow milestone

Rodrigo Campos
Friday, 22 Nov 2013 | 9:14 AM ET

* Time Warner Cable up as Charter nears bank deal for bid

* Dow heads for seventh straight week of gains

* Futures up: Dow 14 pts, S&P 1 pt, Nasdaq 7 pts

NEW YORK, Nov 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to tick up at the open on Friday after the Dow industrials closed above 16,000 for the first time, amid a dearth of data and ahead of a holiday-shortened week in the United States.

The Dow's new record came Thursday as data on inflation and the labor market soothed fears the Federal Reserve could be ready to start winding down a stimulus program that has lifted the benchmark S&P 500 almost 26 percent this year.

Even after the U.S. central bank starts winding down its stimulus, monetary policy is likely to be very accommodative for some time, likely for years, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart said on CNBC.

"Winding down a year that's yielded better than 25 percent on the S&P, the bulls are riding the momentum, protecting profits," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey. "After yet another strong market performance, investors are taking a breather."

S&P 500 futures added 1 point and were slightly 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 rose 14 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 7 points.

The Dow was on track to close a seventh straight week of gains, its longest streak since an 8-week rally between December 2010 and January 2011.

U.S. equity markets will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and will open for half a day next Friday.

Foot Locker shares rose 3.9 percent in premarket trading after the retailer posted third-quarter earnings.

Biogen Idec shares rallied 9 percent in premarket trading after the company won regulatory protection for its multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera in Europe, paving the way for its launch in markets that could account for a large proportion of future sales.

Ariad Pharmaceuticals said European regulators recommended the approval of a leukemia drug whose U.S. sale was suspended due to safety concerns, sending the company's shares up 28.7 percent in premarket trading.

A decision on whether to approve Bank of America's proposed $8.5 billion settlement with investors in mortgage securities is in the hands of a New York state judge, after a nine-week court proceeding ended on Thursday. The bank's shares edged up 0.6 percent in premarket trading.

Shares of Splunk Inc jumped 12.7 percent premarket a day after the data analytics software maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results and raised its full-year revenue forecast.

Charter Communications is nearing an agreement with banks to raise funds for a bid for Time Warner Cable, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation. TWC shares rose 3.8 percent before the bell.

Shares of Ross Stores fell 7.7 percent in premarket trading a day after the retailer's earnings report included a disappointing outlook for the fourth quarter.

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