US futures up, S&P set for third day of gains


New York - US stock index futures were higher on Tuesday, indicating a potential third straight day of gains as investors continued to bet that tensions in Ukraine would not escalate dramatically.

* Equities have come under pressure because of the problems between Russia and Ukraine, with the S&P 500 at one point down about 4 percent from a record closing high in late July.

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The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

The benchmark has recovered some of the decline but remained more than 2.5 percent below its record, suggesting traders may see bargains in the market.

* The gain implied by futures came despite ongoing concerns about the region, with Ukraine reporting that Russia had massed 45,000 troops on its border.

Russia said a convoy of 280 trucks carrying humanitarian aid had set off for Ukraine, and Western governments warnings against using help as a pretext for an invasion.

* Investors remained concerned about the fallout from any escalation in tensions.

In Germany, geopolitical anxiety hit economic sentiment in August, the ZEW think tank said, with investor morale dropping to its lowest since December 2012.

Market participants monitored other areas of unrest, including the recent violence in the Gaza Strip and Israel and US air strikes in Iraq.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 4 points and were below 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 e-mini futures added 27 points, and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures rose 9.25 points.

* ReneSola Ltd was one of the New York Stock Exchange's biggest premarket movers, jumping 6.7 percent to $3.03 (R32) after it reported a second-quarter swing to profit on lower costs.

* Consumer Reports magazine said Tesla Motors Inc's Model S sedan had “more than its share of problems” a year after giving the car top marks. Shares were little changed premarket.

* Hedge fund ValueAct Capital LLC said it had taken a $1 billion stake in Rupert Murdoch-controlled Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, the film and TV company.

ValueAct's chief executive officer told Reuters he supported the independent business plan of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc

and that he doesn't believe it has to buy Allergan Inc.

ValueAct is a top Valeant shareholder. - Reuters

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