US STOCKS-Wall St set for higher open as Nike provides lift

* Nike climbs in premarket after results, outlook

* Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug slows mental decline-study

* Futures up: Dow 148 pts, S&P 15 pts, Nasdaq 36 pts (Adds quote, updates prices)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

March 20 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were poised for a higher open on Friday, with the S&P 500 on track to snap a three-week losing skid, buoyed by Nike earnings, as investors assessed the impact of a stronger dollar on corporate earnings.

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday as a stronger dollar weighed on oil and other commodity prices, sending energy and materials sectors lower, to continue a recent pattern of trading sessions alternating between gains and losses that began at the start of the month.

Dow component Nike’s rose 5.2 percent to $ 103.42 in premarket after it posted a quarterly profit that beat market estimates. The world’s largest sportswear maker sold more higher margin shoes and apparel, but the company warned Wall Street that the stronger dollar would take a toll on its current quarter.

“There is a tug-of-war going on between current valuations in our market and a lot of bad news being priced into a strong dollar with no good news being priced into a strong dollar,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

“We are taking the multinationals out to the woodshed and not moving consumer names higher.”

Biotechs are likely to continue to rally as Biogen Idec shares jumped 7.9 percent at $ 467.99 in premarket trading. The company said its experimental drug became the first Alzheimer’s treatment to significantly slow cognitive decline and reduce brain plaque in patients with early and mild forms of the disease, according to a small study likely to reignite hopes of a treatment.

S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 15 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 higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 148 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 36 points.

The market may see heightened volatility heading into the close as a result of quadruple witching – the expiration of stock options, index options, index futures and single-stock futures.

Tiffany & Co. shares lost 2.9 percent to $ 83.88 before the opening bell after the upscale jeweler reported quarterly sales fell for the first time in five years and are expected to decline further in the current quarter, hurt by the strong dollar.

The dollar was off 0.8 percent against a basket of major currencies and was on track for its first weekly decline in five.

Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants reported a quarterly profit above analysts’ estimates due to cost-cutting and better-than-expected sales at its chains such as LongHorn Steakhouse and Yard House. Its shares climbed 4.7 percent to $ 67.92 in premarket.

Simon Property Group, the No.1 U.S. mall owner, raised its offer for Macerich Co three days after its smaller rival rejected its earlier offer, adopted a poison pill and changed board structure to prevent a hostile takeover. Simon Property advanced 1 percent to $ 194 while Macerich lost 7.5 percent to $ 86.50 before the opening bell.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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