(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a higher opening on the Wall Street as investors weighed reports of progress in talks over a deal to avert the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 23 points to 13,206. The Nasdaq futures gained 14.50 points to 2,676.50. Standard and Poor's 500 futures added 3.30 points to 1,430.30.
On Monday, U.S. stocks closed sharply higher amid hopes that an agreement would be reached to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to begin in January. Aides from both parties said they were optimistic that a deal could be reached in coming days, Reuters reported. Boehner reportedly is open to a tax increase on incomes of over $1 million annually.
On the U.S. data front, a report from the National Association of Home Builders may show housing market index for December rose by 1 point to 47.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: AIG, GBX, BHI, ARB, DMND, XRTX
In corporate news, American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) has priced the sale of roughly 1.65 billion shares of Asian life insurer AIA Group Ltd. at $3.91 (30.30 Hong Kong dollars) apiece. Shares added 1.00 percent in premarket.
American Railcar Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: ARII), controlled by billionaire-investor Carl Icahn, has proposed to acquire railcar maker Greenbrier Companies Inc. (NYSE: GBX) for $20 per share in cash. GBX shares added 5.27 percent in premarket.
Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) shed 3.67 percent in premarket after the oilfield services company warned on its fourth-quarter results due to weaker-than-expected drilling activity in North America and activity, operational delays at its International operations.
Arbitron Inc. (NYSE: ARB), a provider of marketing information services, agreed to be acquired by analytics company Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) for $48 per share in cash. ARB shares surged 24.45 percent in premarket.
Sanderson Farms Inc. (NASDAQ: SAFM) swung to a quarterly profit as sales jumped amid higher market prices for poultry products. Shares rose 1.47 percent in premarket.
Diamond Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: DMND) may be active after the company posted a first-quarter loss as sales fell 10 percent. Its adjusted earnings beat expectations by a penny.
Xyratex Ltd. (NASDAQ: XRTX) may be in focus after the data storage technology provider declared a special cash dividend of $2 per share, payable Dec. 31 to shareholders of record on Dec. 27.
European markets traded mixed, with Germany's DAX gaining 0.45 percent to trade at 7,638.83. France's CAC40 fell 0.01 percent to trade at 3,637.85. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.36 percent to trade at 5,933.24.
Asian markets ended mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index inched up 0.10 percent to finish at 2,162.46. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.96 percent to close at 9,923.01. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index shed 0.08 percent to end at 22,494.73. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,364.75, up 0.63 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures advanced 0.67 percent to $87.78 per barrel. Gold futures inched up 0.11 percent to $1,699.50 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro gained 0.07 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3173, and the British pound advanced 0.02 percent to 1.6208. The dollar slid 0.01 percent against the Japanese yen to 83.8800.