(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a modestly higher opening on the Wall Street as investors continue to eye talks in Washington over a deal to avert the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 32 points to 13,119. The Nasdaq futures gained 9.75 points to 2,632.75. Standard and Poor's 500 futures added 6 points to 1,415.
On the U.S. data front, The New York Federal Reserve's manufacturing survey showed that the general business conditions index was negative for a fifth straight month plunging to -8.1 for December compared with a -5.2 for November. Economists expected a reading of -1.0 for the month.
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On Friday, U.S. stocks ended on a negative note, weighed by a sharp drop in Apple (AAPL) shares and continued uncertainty over the cliff that could hit economic growth. President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner haven't reached an agreement to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to begin in January.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: AAPL, AIG, S, CLWR, LXRX, ENZN
In corporate news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) inched higher in premarket. Citigroup has downgraded rating on the stock to "neutral" from "buy".
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Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ: CLWR) plunged 9.20 percent in premarket after Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) agreed to acquire shares in the company it does not already own for $2.97 per share, up 7 cents per share from its earlier proposal. Sprint's deal represents a 12.0 discount to CLWR's previous closing price. S shares added 1.80 percent.
American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) gained 1.56 percent in premarket. The insurer is reportedly planning to raise as much as $6.5 billion from a sale of its remaining stake in Asian insurer AIA Group.
Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: LXRX) surged 8.56 percent in premarket after the biopharmaceutical company said it received "Fast Track" status for irritable bowel syndrome drug candidate.
Enzon Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ENZN) is considering selling itself, and the biotechnology company plans to suspend clinical development with an objective to maximize value to shareholders. Shares of the Piscataway, New Jersey-based Enzon jumped 11.60 percent in premarket.
European markets traded in red, with Germany's DAX edging 0.02 percent lower to trade at 7,595.32. France's CAC40 fell 0.37 percent to trade at 3,629.86. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 lost 0.54 percent to trade at 5,889.88.
Asian markets ended mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index gaining 0.45 percent to finish at 2,160.34. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 0.94 percent to close at 9,828.88. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.41 percent to end at 22,513.61. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,244.42, down 0.38 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures dipped 0.08 percent to $86.67 per barrel. Gold futures shed 0.27 percent to $1,692.40 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro slid 0.06 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3151, while the British pound advanced 0.22 percent to 1.6203. The dollar rose 0.47 percent against the Japanese yen to 83.9100.