4 Min Read
* Indexes at all-time highs, last week was best in months
* Apple up in premarket after iPhone deal with China Mobile
* Tiffany & Co cuts outlook following Dutch court ruling
* Futures up: Dow 56 pts, S&P 9 pts, Nasdaq 28.5 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Dec 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Monday, indicating that last week's rally would continue, with Apple Inc surging on a distribution deal with China Mobile.
Activity is expected to be thin this week, with many market participants out for the Christmas holiday. Equity markets will close early on Tuesday and will be closed all of Wednesday. The light volume could amplify market volatility.
Tech titan Apple said Sunday it had signed a long-awaited agreement with China Mobile Ltd to sell iPhones through the world's biggest network of mobile phone users, a deal that could add billions of dollars to its revenue.
"This is just good news, and a much bigger strategic deal than had been forecast," said Oliver Pursche, president of the Suffern, New York-based Gary Goldberg Financial Services, which owns the stock.
"Apple is incredibly undervalued at this stage, and this deal can help it trade well beyond $600 early in 2014."
Shares of Apple jumped 3.3 percent to $567.13 in premarket trading, and the stock's massive market capitalization helped lift Nasdaq futures.
U.S.-listed shares of China Mobile rose 2.7 percent to $53.
S&P 500 futures rose 9 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 56 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 28.5 points.
Last week, equities gained their most in months, and both the Dow and S&P 500 ended Friday at all-time closing highs. The week's rally was fueled by strong economic data and a U.S. Federal Reserve decision to begin trimming its stimulus program, which removed a major source of uncertainty for the market. The Fed also said its key interest rate would stay at rock-bottom longer than previously promised.
The S&P has soared more than 27 percent this year, thanks largely to the Fed's stimulus, and is on track for its best year since 1997.
In the latest economic data, November personal income rose 0.2 percent while spending rose 0.5 percent. Analysts had expected both to rise 0.5 percent. Futures were not impacted by the data.
The final December reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index on consumer sentiment is due at 9:55 a.m. Analysts expect a reading of 83, up from 82.5 last month.
Tiffany & Co cut its full-year profit outlook on Sunday after a Dutch arbitration court ruling that it must pay Swatch Group $448.79 million in damages over a failed joint venture. Shares fell 2.7 percent to $88.20 before the bell.
Retail stocks will be in focus in the final shopping days before Christmas. In a sign that this season may be a difficult one for the group, U.S. consumers shopped less on the final weekend before Christmas despite deeper discounts, according to analytics firm RetailNext.
"We're a little nervous about the holiday season," said Pursche. "Sales have been strong, but there has been significant discounting going on, especially in the middle-end section. That could hurt the bottom line."
Target Corp may see particular trouble in the wake of a massive data breach. The Wall Street Journal reported that the retailer suffered reduced customer traffic over the weekend, which is one of the busiest of the year.
Wall Street rose Friday as unexpectedly strong growth data boosted confidence that the economic recovery was gathering speed.