NEW YORK - Stocks were poised for a higher open on Monday, as the threat of an escalation in Ukraine appeared to lessen and the latest flurry of merger action supported equities.
Russia said all issues related to its humanitarian convoy to Ukraine had been resolved but said no progress has been made toward a ceasefire or political solution to the fighting in the east of the country after talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine on Sunday.
The region remained unsettled as Ukraine accused pro-Russian rebels on Monday of hitting a refugee convoy of buses with rocket fire near the eastern city of Luhansk, but the separatists denied responsibility.
Mergers and acquisitions continue to flourish and provide a lift to equities. Discount retailer Dollar General Corp (DG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) offered to buy Family Dollar Stores Inc (FDO.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for $8.95 billion, trumping an offer by Dollar Tree Inc (DLTR.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). Family Dollar shares gained 4.9 per cent to $79.90 before the opening bell while Dollar General jumped 10.1 per cent to $63.25.
Sensors and electrical controls maker Sensata Technologies Holding NV (ST.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said it would buy the Schrader group of companies for an enterprise value of $1 billion.
Ingersoll-Rand Plc (IR.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), a maker of heating and air conditioning systems, said it would buy Cameron International Corp's (CAM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) centrifugal compression unit for $850 million.
S&P 500 e-mini futures ESc1 were up 9.5 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 1YMc1 rose 81 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures NQc1 added 18.75 points.
In a relatively light week for economic data, investors will closely monitor the Aug. 21-23 annual meeting of top central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for possible insight about the path for monetary policy.
Minutes from the Federal Reserve's July meeting will be released on Wednesday.
Earnings season will effectively draw to a close this week with results from retailers including Home Depot (HD.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Target Corp (TGT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Gap Inc (GPS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).
According to Thomson Reuters data through Friday, of the 466 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 68 per cent have topped analyst expectations, besting the 63 beat rate since 1994 and the 67 per cent rate for the past four quarters.