8-26-13 8:51 AM EDT | Email Article

By Kate Gibson and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch


NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures lessened their fall on Monday, turning to little changed, after orders for durable goods declined more than anticipated in July after three months of improvement.


Deal news was driving up shares of Amgen Inc. and Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. in premarket trading.


Stock futures trimmed their declines after the Commerce Department reported bookings for products meant to last at least three years fell 7.3% last month after a 3.9% rise in June.


Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJU3) were off 20 points, or 0.1%, at 14,970. Those for the S&P 500 index (SPU3) fell 1.10 point to 1,660.60, while futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (NDU3) rose point, or less than 0.1%, to 3,122.25.


Commenting on the slight pullback for futures, Stephen Guilfoyle, chief economist at sarge986.com, noted that markets have been steadily on the rise since last Wednesday.


"There is of course some hesitancy among traders regarding the Fed's immediate intentions," said Guilfoyle. "It is apparent that those at the Fed, although clearly wanting to stop purchasing assets, are unsure of what they should do, or what they can get away with. Therefore, nobody with money on the line is willing , at this time to get too far out on a limb."


Also taking away some volume from U.S. markets is a bank holiday in the U.K.


U.S. indexes closed in positive territory on Friday as investors became hopeful that disappointing new-home sales data could work as an argument for delaying tapering of the Federal Reserve's asset purchases.


Investors have been watching data out of the U.S. closely, after several central bankers said tapering could begin later this year if the economy continues to improve. Two Fed officials offered mixed comments in CNBC interviews from the Fed's conference near Jackson Hole, Wyo., early Friday. Atlanta Fed Bank President Dennis Lockhart backed a September taper with a caveat, and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said there is no reason to hurry the taper. Economists expect the Fed to taper soon, according to a new poll.


Worries that the central bank could start reducing its easing program as soon as September sent nervous waves through the financial markets last week with the yield on 10-year Treasury notes (10_YEAR) rising to a two-year high.


Investors also fear higher yields could force up mortgage rates, weighing on the housing market and deterring potential new-home buyers, such as what was seen in Friday's data. Later in the week, the Case-Shiller home-price index and pending-home-sales data will provide more insight into the health of the housing market.


Among notable movers in Monday's trade, shares of Amgen (AMGN) jumped 5.6% in premarket action after the biotech firm on Sunday reached a deal to buy Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) for roughly $10.4 billion. Onyx shares were also up 5.6%.


On a more downbeat note, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) slipped 0.3%, paring back after closing with a 7.3% jump on Friday on news Chief Executive Steve Ballmer plans to retire within the next 12 months once his successor has been identified. AllThingsD reported Monday that Ballmer's departure is happening faster than had been planned.


In other financial markets, Asian stocks closed mostly higher, while European indexes traded with losses. Oil prices fell and gold futures inched higher, with the dollar swinging between small gains and losses.

-Kate Gibson; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com


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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

08-26-13 0851ET

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