US STOCKS-Futures little changed after China data, deals

* Abbott Labs to buy Facet Biotech for $27 per share

* Apollo Management to buy Citi unit-report

* Wholesale inventory, sales data on tap

* Futures: Dow up 13 pts, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 3.75 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates prices, adds quote)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, March 10 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stock index futures
barely budged on Wednesday after data showed Chinese exports
and imports grew faster than expected and after a slew of new
corporate deals.

Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N: ) agreed to buy Facet Biotech
Corp (FACT.O: ), which is jointly developing a multiple sclerosis
drug, for $27 a share, topping a failed bid from Biogen Idec
Inc (BIIB.O: ). For details, see [ID:nN09182932]

Also, private equity firm Apollo Management reached a deal
to buy Citigroup Inc’s (C.N: ) real estate investment division,
Bloomberg reported. [ID:nSGE629062]

“Seeing merger and acquisition news like this is a good
sign for the markets since it shows that companies are becoming
confident enough to use the cash on their balance sheets,” said
Kim Caughey, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt
Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

* S&P 500 futures (SPc1: ) were flat but 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: ) added 13 points, and
Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: ) gained 3.75 points.

Economists raised their forecast for 2010 U.S. economic
growth in March, but trimmed the forecast for 2011, according
to a survey by Blue Chip Economics Indicators. [ID:nN09253330]

Meanwhile, Caterpillar Inc’s (CAT.N: ) chief, in a speech to
a business group on Tuesday, offered a rosier forecast — a 3.4
percent increase in U.S. and global gross domestic product in
2010. [ID:nN09226714]

Brown-Forman Corp (BFb.N: ) is the only S&P company scheduled
to report results on Wednesday, while the day’s data includes
January wholesale inventories and sales.

The Obama administration is weighing help for U.S. airlines
to meet the costs of modernizing the air traffic control
system, the top transportation official said Tuesday, as
airlines said may charge additional fees and cut costs to
increase profits. [ID:nN09196811] and [ID:nN09234122]

Japan’s Nikkei average ended flat on Wednesday, while
European stocks slipped in early trade as lingering concerns
over the region’s sovereign debt offset strong trade data from
China.

Chinese exports jumped 45.7 percent in February, following
a 21.0 percent rise in January, while imports surged 44.7
percent after record growth of 85.5 percent in January, the
government said Wednesday. [ID:nSGE6290A5]

“This is a good sign that business activity is increasing,
but we need even higher imports in China to really impact us,”
Fort Pitt’s Caughey said.

One year to the day after stocks fell to their worst close
in more than 12 years, major U.S. averages ended slightly
higher Tuesday, as gains in telecommunications and industrials
offset lower materials stocks pressured by falling commodity
prices.

Stock Market News

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-Futures little changed after China data, deals