US STOCKS-Wall St set to rise at open, faces resistance


 * General Dynamics off after jet crashes in test flight
 * Southwest Airlines shares fall after plane groundings
 * Pfizer to sell unit to KKR for about $2.4 billion
 * Futures up: Dow 20 pts, S&P 3 pts, Nasdaq 9.5 pts
 (Updates prices, comment)
 By Rodrigo Campos
 NEW YORK, April 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open
slightly higher on Monday, with the S&P 500 facing a level
where selling has clustered in recent sessions.
 S&P 500 futures traded in a tight range below 1,333. The
benchmark has been unable to close above that level since
mid-February, although the index briefly pierced it on Friday.
 That level is double the 12-year low hit in March 2009 and
is not far from 1,344, the S&P's 2011 high and its highest
since June 2008.
 On Friday, the S&P closed its best two-week period since
December and the Dow industrials (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) hit its highest
intraday level since June 2008.
 "The speed with which we moved up is putting a bit of a
curb on a further rally," said Rick Meckler, president of
investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.
 "Certainly there are plenty of traders who will be using
this run-up to try and take profits and get back at a better
point. It's hard to maintain the speed of this advance," he
said.
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 The lack of significant economic data on Monday, nuclear
and other quake-related problems in Japan and unrest in Libya,
Syria and other states in the oil-rich region could translate
into low volumes in Wall Street. Last week was the lowest in
volume so far in 2011.
 S&P 500 futures (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 3 points and were above fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 20
points and Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) added 9.5 points.
 Shares of defense contractor General Dynamics (GD.N: Quote, Profile, Research)
dropped 3.7 percent to $74.55 premarket after its business-jet
unit Gulfstream Aerospace said a jet crashed during a test
flight on Saturday, killing two pilots and two flight-test
engineers.
 Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N: Quote, Profile, Research) shares dropped 2.8 percent to
$12.31 in premarket trading after planes were grounded for
inspection. A U.S. safety investigator said on Sunday evidence
of widespread fuselage cracks was found on a jet that made an
emergency landing with a hole in the cabin. For details see
[ID:nWEN0436].
 In the latest acquisition news, Pfizer Inc (PFE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 0.7
percent to $20.53 after the drugmaker agreed to sell its
Capsugel unit, the world's largest maker of hard capsules, to
private equity firm KKR & Co (KKR.N: Quote, Profile, Research) for nearly $2.4 billion.
 "Today will be influenced a little by takeovers in the
marketplace and further gains in commodities," LibertyView's
Meckler said.
 Nasdaq OMX Group Inc (NDAQ.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and IntercontinentalExchange
Inc (ICE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) face serious hurdles to their unsolicited bid for
NYSE Euronext (NYX.N: Quote, Profile, Research), that could prevent their offer from
being accepted. [ID:nN01259828].
 Deutsche Boerse (DB1Gn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) is holding off on making any
decision as to whether to raise its rival offer for NYSE
Euronext, two sources familiar with Deutsche Boerse's thinking
said on Monday. [ID:nLDE7330LT]. Shares of NYSE Euronext dipped
0.9 percent to $39.25 premarket.
 Nervousness over the political unrest in the Middle East
and North Africa helped lift oil prices, with Brent crude
(LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rising to near $120 a barrel and U.S. crude hitting a
2-1/2-year high above $108.
 (Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

US STOCKS-Wall St set to rise at open, faces resistance