U.S. stock futures rise; pending homes sales eyed

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open
on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) up
0.26 percent, Dow Jones (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research) futures up 0.24 percent and
Nasdaq 100 (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) futures up 0.43 percent at 0813 GMT.

* Japan’s Nikkei average (.N225: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 0.6 percent on Monday
after reports of soaring radiation levels at a damaged nuclear
plant. [.T]

* Renewed worries over Japan’s crippled reactors, as well as
spreading violence in the Middle East and North Africa, also
weighed on European stocks, but a rally in banking and tech
shares helped the market eke out gains and keep its sharp 7-day
recovery rally alive.

* In Libya, rebels pushed west over the weekend to retake a
series of towns from the forces of Muammar Gaddafi who have been
pounded by Western air strikes, while in Syria, President Bashar
al-Assad deployed the army in the country’s main port of Latakia
for the first time after nearly two weeks of protests spread
across the country. [ID:nLDE72Q0C3]

* Oil was steady as investors looked to Middle East
geopolitics to maintain near-record long speculative positions,
while flaring unrest over the weekend was limited to minor crude
exporters Syria and Yemen. [O/R]

* The euro dipped on Monday after German Chancellor Angela
Merkel’s conservatives lost a key state election and it could
pull back towards $1.39 in the near-term, with the dollar
supported after hawkish comments from some Fed officials.

* On the macro front, investors will keep an eye on the
National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales for
February. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 1.0 percent
drop compared with a 2.8 percent decline in January.

* Consumer goods giants Procter & Gamble (PG.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Unilever
(ULVR.L: Quote, Profile, Research) will both raise their prices on detergent and soap in
China by up to 15 percent next month, local media reported,
underscoring the challenges Beijing faces to rein in inflation.

* Japan’s Advantest Corp (6857.T: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Monday it has
agreed to buy U.S.-listed chip tester Verigy Ltd (VRGY.O: Quote, Profile, Research) for
about 90.9 billion yen ($1.1 billion) to bolster its position in
testers for chips used in smart phones.

* Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Monday that one
of its exploration wells encountered high-quality oil off the
coast of Ghana, the latest in a string of discoveries for the
U.S. oil and gas firm in African waters.

* Wall Street advanced for a third straight day on Friday,
giving the S&P its best weekly performance since early February,
but volume remained light as global uncertainty persisted.

* The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 50.03
points, or 0.41 percent, to 12,220.59. The Standard & Poor’s 500
Index (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 4.14 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,313.80. The
Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) added 6.64 points, or 0.24
percent, to 2,743.06.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

U.S. stock futures rise; pending homes sales eyed