US STOCKS-Shares set to open slightly higher, earnings eyed

* Alcoa unofficially kicks off earnings season

* Strong quake in Japan adds to investor caution

* China posts Q1 trade deficit in a sign of rebalancing

* Futures up: S&P 2 pts, Dow 15 pts, Nasdaq 7.75 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates throughout)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) – Wall Street stocks were set
for a slightly higher open on Monday on hopes of strong
corporate earnings.

Aluminum maker Alcoa (AA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) will unofficially kick off the
quarterly earnings season after the market’s close on Monday.
The company is expected to report quarterly earnings of 27
cents per share on revenue of $6.07 billion, according to
Thomson Reuters estimates. Investors will be alert for
companies’ trimming their outlooks due to inflation worries.

“Pricing power. Those two magic words will be ever so
important for those companies that rely on raw materials as an
input cost as we ready ourselves for earnings reports from
corporate America,” said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at
Miller Tabak + Co in New York.

“With profit margins at about record highs, the ability to
pass through higher costs will be the key factor on whether
this can be sustained.”

Market reaction was relatively calm after another strong
aftershock struck northeast Japan on Monday and the evacuation
zone around a crippled nuclear plant was expanded. For details,
see [ID:nL3E7FA058]

NYSE Euronext (NYX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said it would stick to a deal with
Deutsche Boerse (DB1Gn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), snubbing a rival U.S. offer and
thereby decreasing the chances of a bidding war. On Sunday,
NYSE Euronext’s board of directors unanimously rejected the
rival offer from Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and
IntercontinentalExchange (ICE.N: Quote, Profile, Research), saying it was too risky and
counter to the Big Board’s vision. [ID:nN10204369]

NYSE Euronext shares fell 1.2 percent to $38.25 before the
bell. Deutsche Boerse shares in Germany rose more than 1
percent.

Shares of Biogen Idec Inc (BIIB.O: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 6.1 percent to
$77.75 in premarket trading after the company’s experimental
multiple sclerosis drug met the main goal in the first of two
important late-stage studies. [ID:nN11283786]

Endo Pharmaceuticals Holding Inc (ENDP.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said it will
acquire American Medical Systems Holdings Inc (AMMD.O: Quote, Profile, Research), a
urological medical devices supplier, for about $2.6 billion in
cash to strengthen its core urology franchise.
[ID:nL3E7FB1PZ]

Shares of Endo rose 6.5 percent to $43.50 in light
premarket trading while American Medical was up 32.4 percent at
$29.56.

U.S. President Barack Obama will lay out his approach for
long-term deficit reduction later this week, his senior adviser
David Plouffe said on Sunday. Obama will look at the Medicare
and Medicaid government healthcare programs for the elderly and
the poor to “see what kind of savings” are possible, Plouffe
told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” [ID:nN10197400]

S&P 500 futures (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 2 points and were 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: Quote, Profile, Research) added 15
points and Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 7.75 points.

After three months of solid gains that have brought stocks
to 2 1/2-year highs, some analysts said the U.S. earnings
season may not be the time for investors to buy aggressively
since this year’s winners already reflect earnings optimism.
[ID:nN07256466]

Brent crude (LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research) fell below $125 a barrel, while U.S.
crude futures (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research) slipped more than $1 a barrel. Forces
loyal to Muammar Gaddafi shelled the town of Misrata after the
African Union said he had accepted a plan to end Libya’s civil
war. [ID:nLDE7390JP]

U.S. stocks fell late on Friday as a spike in oil prices
revived worries that inflation would derail the recovery,
jolting a market that had been treading water ahead of
corporate earnings.
(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)

US STOCKS-Shares set to open slightly higher, earnings eyed