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U.S. Futures Advance Ahead Of Pending Home Sales Data;Hot Stocks: (YHOO, LGF, VVUS, ILMN)

 March 26, 2012 09:21 AM

U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a higher open on the Wall Street, ahead of pending home sales data even as an upbeat economic data from Germany buoyed the sentiment.

Mini Dow industrial average futures gained 80.00 points to 13,112.00. The Nasdaq Futures advanced 17.50 points to 2,746.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures rose 8.10 points to 1,402.20.

On the economic front, a report from the National Association of Realtors at 10 am ET may show pending home sales gained 1 percent in February following a 2 percent advance in the prior month.

German business confidence hit a eight-month high in March, a data showed. The Ifo institute's business-climate index inched 0.1 points higher to 109.8 in March, while economists expected a reading of 109.6f.

[Related -Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (LH): Why Obamacare Could Propel This Stock To A 70% Gain]

On Friday, U.S. stocks closed on a positive note, paring earlier losses, as a gain in energy shares helped offset a disappointing housing data. Energy stocks advanced as oil prices rose following media reports that Iran's oil exports were expected drop sharply due to Western sanctions.

Hot Stocks Of The Day: (YHOO, LGF, VVUS, ILMN)

In corporate news, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) on Sunday named three new independent directors to its board, ahead of a proxy battle with its largest shareholder Third Point LLC. The hedge fund, which controls around 5.15 percent of Yahoo, has nominated four for board positions, but the struggling Internet company has only agreed on one of those nominees. Third Point said "intends to move forward with a proxy contest." Third Point said it offered several significant compromises to strike a deal to avoid a proxy contest. YHOO closed at $15.39 on Friday.

[Related -Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Q4 Earnings Preview: More January Blues?]

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE:LGF) jumped 5 percent to $15.25 in premarket trading. The studio's "The Hunger Games" reportedly posted record U.S. box office results in its opening weekend.

Vivus Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) gained 3.0 percent to $21.95 in premarket after the biopharmaceutical company announced that the European Medicines Agency has accepted its application to market Avanil, a drug to treat erectile dysfunction.

Illumina Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN) may be in focus. Switzerland's Roche has extended for the second time its cash bid for Illumina for $44.50 per share in cash.

Global Markets:

The European markets traded higher following an upbeat economic data from Germany. Germany's DAX was trading 0.96 percent higher at 7,062.47. France's CAC40 rose 0.40 percent to trade at 3,489.95. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.65 percent to trade at 5,893.13.

Asia markets closed on a mixed note. The Shanghai Composite Index inched 0.06 percent higher to end at $2,350.85. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed flat at 20,668.86. Japan's Nikkei 225 edged 0.07 percent higher to close at 10,018.24. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,052.78, down 1.78 percent.
Market Scan:

Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil advanced 0.30 percent at $107.19 per barrel. Gold gained 0.70 percent to $1,674.0 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.30 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3310 and the British pound gained 0.25 percent against the greenback to 1.5909. The dollar climbed 0.43 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.7000.

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