U.S. stocks were poised to start little changed Friday, as investors mull over the tax-cut deal that was passed by the House late Thursday.
Late Thursday, the House of Representatives gave final approval to the $858-billion tax deal hammered out between President Obama and Republicans. The bill passed the compromise by 277-148, and is now awaiting the President's signature. The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday.
"Up until close of business yesterday, there were Democrats in the House saying 'over my dead body,' so the fact that it went through before midnight will be positive for investors," said Peter Bible at EisnerAmper LLP.
On Thursday, stocks closed at two-year highs, with two of the three major indexes hitting their highest levels since September 2008. Stocks ticked higher, as investors digested mixed reports on housing and jobs data that came out before the opening bell Thursday.
Economy: After the opening bell, an index on leading economic indicators for November is expected to increase 1.2%, after a 0.5% rise the month before.
Companies: After the bell on Thursday, Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) and Research in Motion (RIMM) announced their past-quarter financial results - both beat Wall Street analysts' estimates for earnings and revenue.
Marshall & Ilsley (MI) will be acquired by Canada's BMO Financial in a stock-swap deal valued at $4.1 billion. The transaction is based on a share price of $7.75 - nearly 34% premium over Marshall & Ilsley's closing price on Thursday. In premarket trading, shares of Marshall & Ilsley jumped 27%.
Other regional banks - which have been especially hard hit during the recession - were poised to rally at the open. Regions Financial (RF, Fortune 500), Zions Bancorp (ZION), and KeyCorp (KEY, Fortune 500) were all up in premarket trade.
Eurozone jitters persisted Friday. Ratings agency Moody's downgraded Ireland's debt citing "increased uncertainty regarding the country's economic outlook," "decline in the Irish government's financial strength" and bank related concerns. Earlier in the week, Irish officials accepted IMF funds connected to its €85 billion bailout.
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