* Fitch cuts Italy credit rating after election impasse
* China data show uneven economic recovery, policy dilemma
* S&P 500 less than 1 pct away from all-time closing high
* Futures: S&P off 3.5 pts; Dow off 18 pts, Nasdaq off 6.5
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures
edged lower on Monday following last week's rally to record
highs for the Dow as a credit downgrade of Italy and
disappointing data from China curbed investors' enthusiasm.
The S&P 500 climbed for a sixth straight day on
Friday and ended nine of the past 10 weeks higher. All three
major U.S. stock indexes racked up the biggest weekly gains
since the first week of the year.
European shares dipped on Monday as investors digested
Italy's downgrade by Fitch on account of political stalemate.
China's uneven economic recovery signals a looming dilemma
for policymakers as official data over the weekend showed
inflation at a 10-month high in February while factory output
and consumer spending were weaker than forecast.
But analysts said stocks still had momentum to rise, with
the S&P 500 now less than 1 percent away from its all-time
"The market may advance more slowly that in previous weeks,
but there are numerous bullish signs, including the fact that
hedge funds continue to buy into the market," said Todd
Salamone, director of research at Schaeffer's Investment
S&P 500 futures fell 3.5 points and were below 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 fell 18
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 6.5 points.
Deals will remain at the forefront of investors minds, with
the Times of India newspaper reporting that AT&T Inc is
considering buying a 25 percent stake in India's Reliance Jio
Infocomm Ltd, a telecommunications venture controlled by
billionaire Mukesh Ambani, for $3.5 billion. AT&T shares were
down 0.5 percent in premarket trading.
Merck & Co will be in the spotlight after data
released on Saturday showed unexpected serious side effects in
niacin, a heart drug aimed at raising good HDL cholesterol.
Wall Street commodity revenues crashed last year to their
lowest on record, as tighter regulation and limited price swings
squeezed the once dominant traders of Goldman Sachs Group Inc
, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley.
U.S. stocks closed out a historic week with another day of
gains on Friday, as the Dow hit yet another record closing high
on a payrolls report that surpassed even the most optimistic