US STOCKS-Futures off after sharp run; Apple up ahead of call

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 24, 2012 20:29 hrs

* UPS to buy TNT Express

* Apple to reveal plans for cash reserve

* Futures: Dow off 16 pts, S&P off 1.5 pts, Nasdaq up 9.25

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures slipped o n Monday, indicating equities may pull back from nearly 4-year highs as investors waited to hear what Apple will do with its massive $98 billion cash stockpile.

But futures pointed to a higher open for the Nasdaq as Apple Inc, the world's most valuable company, was due to hold a conference call on the outcome of talks about its cash balance, with expectations it will declare a dividend for the first time since 1995. Shares in the iPad maker climbed 2.9 percent to $602.28 in premarket trade.

The S&P 500 capped its fifth straight weekly gain, with its best week in three months on Friday. The index has risen in seven of the past eight sessions for a 4.5 percent climb.

"With the market having posted five consecutive winning weeks, investors will be looking for additional fuel as we march towards 1,440, the next key level," for the S&P, said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.

"The Apple call this morning could end the early morning hesitation and put us back on track."

S&P 500 futures fell 1.5 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 lost 16 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 9.25 points.

United Parcel Service Inc will pay 5.2 billion euros ($6.85 billion) for Dutch peer TNT Express in a deal making UPS the market leader in Europe.

Economic data expected on Monday includes the Midwest Manufacturing Index for January from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) and the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo March housing market index at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).

After the closing bell, Adobe Systems Inc is set to post quarterly results. The mean estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters is for a profit of 57 cents a share for the software maker.

Dun & Bradstreet Corp, which provides commercial information on businesses, said local employees in China may have violated U.S. anti-bribery laws. It suspended operations at a local unit while it conducts an inquiry.

European stocks lost ground early Monday, slipping from 8-month highs last week as investors waited for more evidence of improvement in U.S. and European economies before chasing the market's brisk 2-month rally. The Nikkei ended slightly higher. [MKTS/GLOB}

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