US STOCKS-Futures point to higher open on M&A activity

Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:45am EDT
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* M&A deal lifts sentiment; UnitedHealth unit to buy Catamaran

* Oil prices volatile amid potential deal with Iran

* Strength in dollar could be a concern

* Futures up: Dow 121 pts, S&P 10.5 pts, Nasdaq 27.75 pts (Updates prices, adds Teva deal and economic data)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, March 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Monday, pointing to a second straight daily gain as four M&A deals in the biotech sector lifted market sentiment after a recent bout of weakness.

Despite that, energy shares could come under pressure as crude oil fell on a possible deal with Iran, which could bring an end to sanctions and allow an increase in the country's oil exports. Crude oil fell 0.5 percent to $48.68 per barrel after falling as 2.5 percent earlier in the session.

Separately, an increase in the U.S. dollar could weigh on multi-nationals. The U.S. dollar index rose 0.7 percent.

Both the dollar and commodity prices have given investors reason to be cautious of late, especially going into the first-quarter earnings season, where traders will look to see how much oil prices and the strong U.S. dollar will impact corporate bottom lines. Last week, the S&P 500 fell 2.2 percent, the Dow lost 2.3 percent and the Nasdaq declined 2.7 percent.   Continued...