Stock index futures signal early gains

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November 19, 2012 10:49 PM EST

Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.46 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.4 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.47 percent at 1021 GMT.

Asian and European stocks climbed and German government bond prices fell as investors were encouraged by an improving outlook for talks to resolve an imminent fiscal crunch in the United States.

Leading U.S. lawmakers expressed confidence on Sunday that they could reach a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" even as they laid down markers on taxes and spending that may make any agreement more difficult.

Networking equipment company Cisco Systems Inc said it will buy privately held cloud networking company Meraki for $1.2 billion in cash as part of its cloud and networking strategy.

General Motors Co. and its local partners, intensifying competition in China in the no-frills car market, on Sunday formally opened another plant for its low-cost Baojun brand.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc is taking its first legal step to stop months of protests and rallies outside Walmart stores, targeting the union that it says is behind such actions.

Citigroup Inc has agreed to pay $360 million to the brokerage estate of Lehman Brothers to resolve a dispute over $1 billion in collateral that the investment bank was forced to post in the days leading up to its bankruptcy in 2008.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is expected to announce this week that it will acquire a 49 percent stake in the YES Network from the New York Yankees baseball team and its partners, in a deal that would value the sports channel at $3 billion, a person with knowledge of the talks told Reuters.

Online financial services company ETrade Financial Corp will shut down its British brokerage business as the company shifts focus back to its core U.S. operations, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the decision.

On the macro front, investors awaited data on existing home sales for October, due at 1500 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 4.75 million annualized unit total, a repeat of the September annualized total. Investors also eyed the November housing market index, due at 1500 GMT.

Hope that U.S. politicians would find common ground to steer clear of the "fiscal cliff" boosted stocks on Friday, though the gains were not enough to offset the week's losses.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added 45.93 points, or 0.37 percent, to 12,588.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 6.55 points, or 0.48 percent, to 1,359.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 16.19 points, or 0.57 percent, to 2,853.13.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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