* Cyprus solution removes a hurdle to stocks' upward move
* Dell says two new proposals could be superior to
* Apollo Group beats estimates, shares jump
* S&P 500 about 0.5 pct away from closing high record
* Futures up: Dow 31 pts, S&P 6 pts, Nasdaq 14.5 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to edge
higher at the open on Monday after negotiators reached a deal
hours before a deadline to keep Cyprus afloat with a financial
bailout and avert the country's possible exit from the euro
The deal between Cyprus and the heads of the European Union,
the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund
will spare the Mediterranean island a likely banking collapse by
winding down the largely state-owned Popular Bank of Cyprus and
shifting deposits below 100,000 euros to the Bank of Cyprus to
create a "good bank."
"The problems in Cyprus had held the market back a little
bit, so I guess there will be some relief. This takes away one
of the hurdles for moving higher," said Rick Meckler, president
of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey
City, New Jersey.
The rise in futures sets the S&P 500 index up to make a new
run at its record high. The benchmark index ended last week down
0.2 percent, only its second negative week of the year. At
1,556.89, it is slightly more than 0.5 percent away from
breaking its record close of 1,565.15 set in October 2007.
Meckler said a record high on the S&P amid a low
interest-rate environment would likely lure more investors into
equities, serving as a catalyst to move equities even higher.
A lack of major market-moving economic indicators in the
United States on Monday will keep investors focused on
developments in Cyprus.
S&P 500 futures rose 6 points 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 31
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 14.5 points.
Dell Inc said it received alternative proposals
from Blackstone and billionaire investor Carl Icahn that
could be superior to the $24.4 billion offer from founder
Michael Dell and private equity fund Silver Lake Partners last
month. Dell shares rose 3.3 percent in premarket trading.
Merger and acquisition activity has been another of the
reasons for the stellar performance of stocks so far this year.
Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Brian Moynihan
must hold shares likely worth millions of dollars for at least a
year after he retires under a new compensation policy that the
bank instituted following investor pressure. The bank's shares
edged up 1.2 percent in premarket trading.
University of Phoenix owner Apollo Group rose 9.2
percent to $18.60 in premarket trading after it reported a
better-than-expected profit even as student sign-ups fell for
the fourth straight quarter.