US STOCKS-Wall St set for flat open after February rally

* Consumer spending falls for second straight month

* Manufacturing data expected from Markit, ISM

* NXP Semi to buy Freescale Semi

* HP to buy Aruba Networks

* Futures: Dow up 13 pts, S&P off 1.75 pts, Nasdaq up 5.75 pts (Adds quote, updates prices)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, March 2 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were poised for a flat open Monday, in the wake of the S&P 500’s best month in more than three years, as data showed consumer spending remained soft in January and ahead of a report on the manufacturing sector.

U.S. consumer spending fell for a second month in January, likely as lower gasoline prices continued to weigh on receipts at service stations, while personal income fell just short of expectations, showing a rise of 0.3 percent.

“Basically mixed, income up and spending down, inflation basically not a problem but up from the last time,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

“Once the market digests this mixed bag of economic numbers, we will probably see the market attempt to move higher later in the session.”

At 9:45 a.m. (1445 GMT), data will be released on the manufacturing sector by financial data firm Markit, following shortly afterwards by the Institute for Supply Management’s reading on the manufacturing sector at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT).

S&P 500 e-mini futures were down 1.75 points and fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract, indicated a flat open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 13 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 5.75 points.

Major Wall Street indexes dipped on Friday, but the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 still managed their biggest monthly gains since October 2011, while the Nasdaq notched its best month since January 2012. The Nasdaq is within striking distance of the 5,000 mark and record highs set in March 2000.

Chip maker NXP Semiconductors NV has agreed to buy smaller peer Freescale Semiconductor Ltd and merge operations in a deal valuing the combined company at over $ 40 billion. NXP shares climbed 14.9 percent to $ 97.50 in premarket trade while Freescale advanced 9 percent to $ 39.35.

Lumber Liquidators plunged 24.5 percent to $ 39.17 before the opening bell after a report by television news program “60 Minutes” said the retailer of hardwood flooring in North America, sold flooring with higher levels of formaldehyde than permitted under California’s health and safety standards.

Boston Scientific Corp said it will acquire Endo International Plc’s American Medical Systems urology portfolio for up to $ 1.65 billion. Boston Scientific edged up 0.7 percent in premarket while Endo gained 2.2 percent to $ 87.50.

Cardinal Health said on Monday that it would buy Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis vascular technology unit for $ 1.9 billion and the acquisition would boost 2017 earnings by 20 cents per share.

Hewlett-Packard said it would buy Wi-Fi network gear maker Aruba Networks for about $ 2.7 billion in cash. Aruba Networks slipped 1.5 percent to $ 24.44 before the opening bell while HP advanced 0.8 percent to $ 35.10.

Warren Buffett, the billionaire chief executive officer and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, told CNBC on Monday that Berkshire executives Ajit Jain and Greg Abel were not angling for the top Berkshire job.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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