Stock Futures Climb Amid Budget Progress


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Stock-index futures pointed to a higher open for Wall Street amid reports lawmakers were inching closer to a budget deal. Traders also eyed Apple after Citigroup cut its share rating.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:34 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 34 points to 13120, S&P 500 futures rose 6.3 points to 1416 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 10.3 points to 2634.

Trading desks remained somewhat fixated on talks to avert the fiscal cliff that is looming just weeks away. Without a deal, the world's biggest economy is set to be pounded by painful spending cuts and tax increases.

As of late last week, a deal seemed far out of reach, with Democrats and Republicans continuing to lob criticism at one another. However, Fox News confirmed that House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner offered to raise taxes on those earnings $1 million or more a year. That would be a significant concession from one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress. Fox News reported that while the deal wasn't completely rejected, a source said issues remain. In particular, the Obama administration reportedly remained unwilling to cave in on certain spending cuts.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was another focus on Monday after Citigroup cut its rating on the tech titan to neutral from buy. It also cut its price target by $100 to $575. Since the company's market capitalization is nearly half a trillion dollars, big movements tend to impact the broader markets, especially the technology-heavy Nasdaq.

Also on the corporate front, Sprint (NYSE:S) said it will acquire a 100% stake in Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLRW) for $2.2 billion. The deal values the company at roughly $10 billion, including debt.

The economic calendar was fairly light on the day. The New York Federal Reserve said manufacturing in the Empire State region contracted at a faster pace in December than it did the month prior. The gauge came in at -8.1, down from -5.22, and considerably weaker than the -1 economists expected.

Energy futures were largely unchanged. The benchmark crude contract fell 6 cents, or 0.07%, to $86.67 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline was unchanged at $2.662 a gallon. In metals, gold dipped $4, or 0.24%, to $1,693 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.36% to 2621, the English FTSE 100 slumped 0.53% to 5891 and the German DAX slipped 0.06% to 7592.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 0.94% to 9829 and the Chinese Hang Seng tilted lower by 0.41% to 22514.