April 2, 2013 / 12:42 PM / 4 years ago

MARKET PULSE-Health insurers, Ford, BGC Partners, Vodafone, Obagi

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(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s)

April 2 (Reuters) - Some U.S. stocks to watch on Tuesday:

Futures Rise, S&P's All-Time Intraday High in View

U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday, pointing to a rebound from the previous session and tracking a rise in European equities. S&P 500 futures were up 7.2 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 59 points and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 19.25 points.

** HUMANA INC, Monday close $75.02, up 12 pct premarket

** UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INC, Monday close $58.97, up 4 pct premarket

** AETNA INC, Monday close $52.38, up 2 pct after market

** UNIVERSAL AMERICAN CORP, Monday close $8.68, up 9 pct premarket

** MOLINA HEALTHCARE INC, Monday close $30.76, up 2 pct after market

In a reversal that followed intense lobbying from the health insurance industry and members of Congress, the U.S. government said it would increase the payment rate for health insurers that offer coverage through the Medicare Advantage program by 3.3 percent in 2014, from the 2.3 percent cut announced in February.

** FORD MOTOR CO, Monday close $12.90, up 1 pct premarket

** GENERAL MOTORS CO, Monday close $27.80, up 1 pct premarket

Chrysler Group LLC kicked off March U.S. auto sales, which are expected to reach the highest monthly total in the United States in more than five years, buoyed by attractive financing packages and pent-up demand.

Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 171,606 vehicles for March, the group's best monthly sales since December 2007. Other automakers will follow with their reports through Tuesday.

** BGC PARTNERS INC, Monday close $3.85, up 40 pct premarket

** NASDAQ OMX GROUP INC, Monday close $32.01

Nasdaq OMX Group agreed to buy electronic Treasuries-trading platform eSpeed from BGC Partners for $750 million in cash, providing the exchange operator an entry into one of the world's largest and most liquid cash markets.

** VODAFONE , Monday close $28.34, up 5 pct premarket

The Financial Times Alphaville blog cited "usually reliable people" as saying that Verizon Communications and AT&T have been working together on a breakup bid for Vodafone.

Vodafone, the world's second largest mobile operator, has been at the center of deal speculation in recent months, linked to its ownership of a 45 percent stake in U.S. mobile operator Verizon Wireless.

** OBAGI MEDICAL PRODUCTS INC, Monday close $19.71, up 16 pct premarket

** VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTERNATIONAL INC , Monday close $76.05

Neurological and dermatology drugs maker Merz Pharma Group offered to buy cosmetic products maker Obagi Medical Products for $383.5 million, topping a bid by Canada's Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc last month.

** APPLE INC, Monday close $428.91

Chief Executive Tim Cook apologized to Chinese consumers on Monday and altered iPhone warranty policies in its No. 2 market after more than two weeks of condemnation in the state-run media of its after-sales service.

Fidelity Contrafund, a $92 billion fund that is the largest active shareholder in Apple, on Monday reported that it cut its stake in the iPhone maker by 10 percent during the first two months of 2013.

** NUANCE COMMUNICATIONS INC, Monday close $20.18, up 9 pct premarket

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, known for taking large "activist" positions in companies and pushing for management change, has taken a 9.27 percent stake in speech recognition and digital imaging software maker Nuance Communications, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.

** HEWLETT PACKARD, Monday close $23.31, down 4 pct premarket

Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the world's No.1 personal computer maker's stock to "sell" from "neutral", theflyonthewall.com reported.

** TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC, Monday close $35.01, down 1 pct premarket

Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the chipmaker's stock to "hold" from "buy," saying it expected orders to slow down in the near term. "We also continue to observe weaker macroeconomic data points from China, which we believe could be causing the semiconductor supply chain to take a cautious approach to inventory levels and build rates," the brokerage said in a note to clients.

** NORDIC AMERICAN TANKER LTD, Monday close $11.02, down 12 pct premarket

The oil tanker operator said it is commencing a public offering of $87 million worth common shares and will use the proceeds to buy tankers and for general corporate purposes.

** F5 NETWORKS INC, Monday close $87.91, up 2 pct premarket

Baird Equity Research upgraded the network gear maker's stock to "outperform", saying the company is benefiting from healthy demand particularly in its security business.

"We believe F5 will benefit from some incremental business following Cisco's decision to end development of its traditional ADC solution," analyst Jayson Noland wrote in a note.

** QUALCOMM INC, Monday close $66, up 1.5 pct premarket

Raymond James raised upgraded the chipmaker's stock to "strong buy" from "outperform," and raised its price target to $83 from $80.

"Qualcomm will maintain a meaningful advantage on high-end smartphones and continues to lead the world in system-on-chip integration," the brokerage said in a note to clients.

** EBAY INC, Monday close $55.71, up 1 pct premarket

Topeka Capital Markets upgraded the e-commerce company's stock to "buy" from "hold", saying it is on track to meet its three-year plan for "an aspirational doubling of the payments business and near mid-teens growth in e-commerce".

The brokerage also raised its price target on the stock to $65 from $54.

** SHOE CARNIVAL INC, Monday close $20.21, down 3 pct aftermarket

The footwear retailer forecast first-quarter results below Wall Street expectations as the cold and wet weather in March hurt sales of its higher margin spring sandal and athletic products.

The company said it expects earnings to be in the range of 36 cents to 44 cents per share and sales of between $226 and $232 million. Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 57 cents per share on revenue of $239.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

** ACTAVIS INC, Monday close $92.46, up 3 pct after market

A U.S. court ruling that the patent protecting AstraZeneca's Pulmicort Repsules asthma treatment is invalid clears the way for a generic copy from Actavis.

Total branded and generic sales of Pulmicort Repsules were around $1.2 billion in the United States in the 12 months to January 2013, according to Actavis.

** ASTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC, Monday close $4.57, up 3 pct after market

JMP Securities initiated coverage on the company's stock with an "outperform" rating and a price target of $8, saying a 10-year marketing exclusivity in the European Union for Astex's blood disorder drug will benefit the company's current valuation.

** INVESTORS REAL ESTATE TRUST, Monday close $9.71, down 4 pct aftermarket

The REIT, which owns and operates residential and commercial properties, said it has commenced an underwritten public offering of 8 million shares. The company intends to use the proceeds to repay debt and for general business purposes.

** CBS, Monday close $45.74

** COMCAST CORP, Monday close $41.38

** NEWS CORP, Monday close $30.34

U.S. regulators on Monday launched a review of policy governing the way it enforces broadcasts of nudity and profanity on radio and television and asked for public comment on whether its current approach should be amended.

The Federal Communications Commission issued a public notice inviting comment on whether it should focus its efforts on pursuing only the "most egregious" cases in which rules are broken, or focus on isolated cases of nudity and expletives uttered on radio and TV shows.

** CITIGROUP INC, Monday close $43.79

A Manhattan federal judge on Monday signaled he will not rubber-stamp Citigroup's proposed $590 million settlement of a shareholder lawsuit accusing it of hiding tens of billions of dollars of toxic mortgage assets.

U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein asked lawyers for the bank and its shareholders to address several issues at an April 8 fairness hearing, including requested legal fees and expenses of roughly $100 million, and the absence of payments by former Citigroup executives. (Compiled by Pallavi Ail in Bangalore,)

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