US STOCKS-Wall St set to rise with Dow record within sight

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 05, 2013 21:16 hrs

* Futures up: S&P 6.4 pts, Dow 52 pts, Nasdaq 14 pts

* Dow within grasp of record closing high set in 2007

* China announces record spending for 2013

* Data on U.S. services sector on tap for 10 a.m.

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, March 5 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to rise at the start of trading on Tuesday as the Dow stood within reach of a record closing high and investors were cheered by China's record spending plans.

Outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao announced the spending aimed at sustaining growth in the country, while China's new rulers will focus on consumer-led growth to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

A report on the vast U.S. services sector is expected to show the pace of growth was relatively unchanged in February, with economists looking for the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing PMI index to dip to 55.0 from 55.2 in January. The report is due at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT).

Investors have been looking for China, the second-largest economy in the world, to help buoy global growth at a time when the U.S. recovery is sluggish and the euro zone is in a downturn.

Still, China gave a growth target of 7.5 percent for 2013, below 2012's 7.8 percent.

"One of the concerns of this market has been where the growth could come from," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"The sequester here in the U.S. has put a bit of a damper on spending, particularly as it relates to government spending in the coming year and I think there's at least a feeling that perhaps the moves in China can provide an offset to a slowdown in the U.S."

Tensions over the U.S. fiscal crisis eased as President Barack Obama called more opposition lawmakers to find a way to stop the $85 billion in spending cuts known as the sequester, while congressional Republicans announced a plan to prevent a government shutdown.

The Dow on Monday closed within 40 points of its all-time closing high in October 2007. Stocks have rallied since the start of the year as investors continue to view equities as more attractively valued than other asset classes.

Loose monetary policy around the world has also driven bets on risk assets. Federal Reserve vice chairwoman Janet Yellen on Monday backed the current aggressive monetary stimulus.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.4 points and were 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 gained 52 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 14 points.

Qualcomm rose 2.4 percent to $68.20 in premarket trading after the company announced a dividend increase and stock buyback program.

Shares of J.C. Penney tumbled 3.2 percent to $16.20 in premarket trading after a source familiar with the matter said Vornado Realty Trust is selling nearly half its stake in the retailer.

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