* Fitch cuts Italy credit rating after election impasse
* China data show uneven economic recovery, policy dilemma
* Dell, Icahn enter into confidentiality agreement
* S&P 500 less than 1 pct away from all-time closing high
* Futures: S&P off 1.2 pts; Dow up 1 pt, Nasdaq off 4.5 pts
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set for a
flat to slightly lower open on Monday as a credit downgrade of
Italy and disappointing data from China curbed investors'
The cautious mood followed last week's rally that took the
Dow to record highs. 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
Fitch's downgrade of Italy 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
Deals will remain at the forefront of investors' minds.
Icahn Enterprises LP said it had entered into a
confidentiality agreement with Dell Inc and looked
forward to commencing a review of the company.
Dell shares were up 1.1 percent in premarket trade.
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, the
Times of India newspaper said. AT&T shares were down 0.2 percent
at $36.60 in premarket trading.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.2 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 were up 1
point, while Nasdaq 100 futures lost 4.5 points.
Genworth Financial Inc shares rose nearly 9 percent
in premarket trading following a report by Barron's that the
mortgage insurer's stock could almost double in the next year,
boosted by gains in mortgage and healthcare pricing.
Dick's Sporting Goods Inc shares fell 8 percent in
premarket trade after the retailer reported lower-than-expected
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