US STOCKS-Futures higher on Caterpillar, M&A flurry

* Caterpillar shares rise after Q1 results, outlook

* Greek minister: Aid will come in time to avoid default

* Hertz to buy Dollar Thrifty; Charles River to buy WuXi

* futures up: Dow 27 pts, S&P 2 pts, Nasdaq 1.75 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Adds quote, updates prices)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, April 26 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stock index futures
rose on Monday after a new flurry of merger-and-acquisition
activity and Caterpillar reported stronger-than-expected
quarterly profit.

Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N: ), the Dow component, rose 2.7
percent to $70.61 in premarket trading. The heavy machinery
maker also raised its full-year forecast, saying “economic
conditions are definitely improving.” For details, see
[ID:nN26212283]

Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N: ) gained 7.6 percent to $109.98
premarket after it reported adjusted first-quarter earnings
that beat estimates and raised its full-year profit view, a
bullish sign for consumer spending. [ID:nN26177645]

On the merger front, Hertz Global Holdings Inc (HTZ.N: )
agreed to buy rival car rental company Dollar Thrifty
Automotive Group Inc (DTG.N: ) for about $1.2 billion, while
Charles River Laboratories International (CRL.N: ), the U.S.
clinical research company, plans to acquire WuXi PharmaTech Inc
(WX.N: ) for $1.6 billion. [ID:nSGE63P03V] and [ID:nSGE63P04G]

Dollar shares gained 4.2 percent to $40.50 premarket.

“Having multiple billion-dollar deals is a clear testament
to the strength of the market,” said Arthur Hogan, chief market
analyst at Jefferies & Co in New York. “This is something we
should get used to.”

Also, U.S. investment bank Stifel Financial Corp (SF.N: )
will buy rival Thomas Weisel Partners Group Inc (TWPG.O: ) for
about $300 million in stock. [ID:nSGE63P0M3]

S&P 500 futures (SPc1: ) rose 2 points and were slightly
above 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 (DJc1: )
gained 27 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: ) added 1.75
points.

Citigroup Inc (C.N: ) slipped nearly 1 percent to $4.82 after
the U.S. Treasury said it was launching a plan to sell off a
7.7-billion-share stake in the bank. [ID:nNYC003376]

Ahead of the first session since U.S. indexes hit a
19-month high, a Greek official said an aid package would help
avert a sovereign debt default, though signs grew the package
may have to be bigger. The situation in Greece has weighed on
equities in recent weeks. For details, see [ID:nTOPNOW2]

“It looks as though this issue will be resolved sooner
rather than later, so even though there are questions it looks
like a major overhang on the market will soon be behind us,”
Hogan said.

The two Democratic Senators trying to come up with a bill
regulating the $450 trillion private swaps market are near a
deal, and will include a provision to require banks to spin off
swaps desks, sources said Sunday. [ID:nN25166598]

European stocks were up more than 1 percent Monday morning,
led by banking shares, as worries eased over Greece’s woes
[.EU]. while Japan’s Nikkei average (.N225: ) jumped 2.3
percent.

U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) hit a 19-month high Friday as Merck rose after
it said costs from healthcare reform will be lower than its
rivals.

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(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-Futures higher on Caterpillar, M&A flurry