* Earnings season begins this week
* NPS Pharma climbs in premarket; to be acquired by Shire
* Foundation Medicine jumps; Roche to take majority stake
* Futures up: Dow 27 pts, S&P 2.75 pts, Nasdaq 8 pts (Adds quote, updates prices)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Jan 12 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were set to open little changed on Monday, after a two-week decline pushed the S&P 500 back into negative territory for the year, as investors anticipated the start of the corporate earnings season.
Oil prices continued their downward march and helped weaken futures, with Brent down 3.8 percent to $ 48.20 and U.S. crude down 3.7 percent to $ 46.59 as Goldman Sachs slashed its short-term price forecasts and Gulf producers showed no signs of curbing output.
“During this cycle, since the beginning of the precipitous selloff in the commodity price, we have seen very few days where you would have a three percent move in crude and see stock prices hold onto gains,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
“Investors have a lot of other things to think about, like the pace of Fed tightening, a Greek exit, the possibility of quantitative easing coming from the ECB, but in reality, we are either going to focus on energy prices or earnings will kick in and they will shift their focus to fundamentals.”
U.S. stocks fell on Friday after the December jobs report painted a mixed picture of the economy and led the benchmark S&P index to its second straight weekly decline. Since hitting a record high on Dec. 29, the index has fallen 2.2 percent on concerns about global growth, the potential for an exit by Greece from the euro zone and falling oil prices.
Fourth-quarter earnings are expected to grow by 4 percent over the year-ago period, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Alcoa is scheduled to post quarterly earnings after the closing bell, with financials JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup due to report later in the week. Dow component Intel Corp is expected to post earnings on Thursday.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 2.75 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 27 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 8 points.
NPS Pharmaceuticals jumped 8.5 percent to $ 45.45 in premarket trading after Shire Plc agreed to acquire the company for $ 5.2 billion. U.S.-listed shares of Shire slipped 0.6 percent to $ 216.22.
Foundation Medicine surged 154.5 percent to $ 60.90 after Roche Holding agreed to take a majority stake in the company for up to $ 1.18 billion.
Bristol-Myers Squibb climbed 6.6 percent to $ 64.30 in premarket trade after the company said the independent data monitoring committee concluded that a late stage study evaluating its Opdivo lung cancer drug met its endpoint.
Lululemon Athletica climbed 5.8 percent to $ 62 before the opening bell after the yogawear chain raised its revenue and profit forecasts for the fourth quarter.
Tiffany shares lost 8.7 percent to $ 94.50 in premarket after the upscale jeweler reported quarterly earnings and cut its full-year outlook.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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