US STOCKS-Wall St set for higher open on Italy, economic data hopes

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 29, 2013 12:50 hrs

* Italy forms government after months of uncertainty

* Risk trade is on: Gold rises as dollar falls

* U.S. March personal income rose 0.2 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set for a higher open on Monday, buoyed by the formation of a broad coalition government in Italy which ended two months of political uncertainty and boosted an appetite for risky assets, as investors braced for major economic news this week.

U.S. stocks were likely to get a boost by European shares, which edged up on Monday after Italy finally formed a government, although analysts saw the gains petering out in the near term.

The U.S. dollar fell against a major basket of currencies, while commodities like spot gold rose.

"The market is moving up as the Italian political situation is finally unlocked and that's offering some hope. You can see that boosting risk trade here," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

In macroeconomic news, data showed U.S. Commerce Department personal income rose 0.2 percent, slightly higher than expected. Market reaction was muted.

Pending home sales data is due at 10:00 a.m. EDT and Dallas Federal Manufacturing Survey index is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

The all-important nonfarm payrolls report is due on Friday.

"We have key economic data, especially the employment report later in the week, and we are also going to hear from the ECB and the Fed later, so earnings takes a back seat this week," Cardillo said.

J.C. Penney Co Inc shares rose 3.3 percent in premarket trade after the company confirmed reports from last week that Goldman Sachs Group Inc will provide it with a five-year, $1.75 billion financing package, the latest move by the retailer to shore up its finances.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.1 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 59 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 12.75 points.

Wall Street was poised to start the last week of April higher. So far, the S&P 500 is up 0.8 percent this month.

Weak U.S. growth data has raised expectations the Federal Reserve will keep its pace of bond buying at $85 billion a month during the FOMC meeting announcement on Wednesday, while the European Central Bank (ECB) is widely expected to announce an interest rate cut when it meets on Thursday.

On Monday, hotel, energy and financial services conglomerate Loews Corp reported a 34 percent drop in first-quarter profit due to higher impairment charges and a sharp fall in investment income. The stock was unchanged in premarket trade.

Shares of online retailer Inc posted the largest daily drop in 15 months after the company reported results Thursday and was Friday's biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes. The stock was off 0.2 percent in premarket trading Monday.

U.S. stocks dipped in thin volume on Friday, though the market had a strong week overall.

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