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US STOCKS-Wall St set for strong open as tax bill nears passage

Stock MarketsDec 20, 2017 19:40
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© Reuters. US STOCKS-Wall St set for strong open as tax bill nears passage

* Tax bill moves closer to being signed into law

* Micron jumps on strong forecast, boosting other chipmakers

* FedEx up on results, says new tax code to boost results

* Futures up: S&P 9.25 pts, Nasdaq 25.25 pts, Dow 95 pts (Adds comment, updates prices, adds company details)

By Sruthi Shankar

Dec 20 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes were set for strong gains on Wednesday after the U.S. Senate approved a sweeping $1.5-trillion tax bill that is expected to boost corporate earnings and lead to higher dividends and stock buybacks for investors.

The bill was approved on a 51-48 vote, but the Senate had to send it back to the House of Representatives for a re-vote due to a procedural snag. The final approval is expected later in the day, before the bill is sent to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. proposed changes in the bill include cutting the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent from Jan. 1, which many strategists estimate could boost earnings by between roughly 7 percent to 10 percent next year. much-anticipated tax cuts have powered a record-setting rally in U.S. stocks. The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX has risen nearly 20 percent so far this year, its best since 2013.

"I believe this bull market has quite a bit more to run, certainly the next six months there's lot of possibility for upside," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) in Austin, Texas.

At 8:25 a.m. ET (1325 GMT), S&P 500 e-minis ESc2 were up 9.25 points, or 0.34 percent, with 189 contracts changing hands.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc2 were up 25.25 points, or 0.39 percent, in volume of 47 contracts.

Dow e-minis 1YMc2 were up 95 points, or 0.38 percent, with 9 contracts changing hands.

But Frederick, like other market experts, says the market has already priced in the tax cuts and a slight retreat would not be out of place.

"We might see a small pullback once the bill is signed into law, not more than 1 or 2 percent," he said.

Indeed, Wall Street fell on Tuesday as excitement over the tax revamp was offset by concern over its effect on years of monetary policy stimulus and the future of interest rates.

FedEx Corp (NYSE:FDX) FDX.N , which reported results on Tuesday, gave an upbeat earnings forecast for 2018 as it hopes to benefit from the tax overhaul. Its shares were up about 2 percent premarket. Micron MU.O jumped 7 percent after its strong results and forecast, allaying concerns that a boom in chip demand had peaked. INTC.O rose 1.5 percent, while chip equipment makers Applied Materials AMAT.O and LAM Research LRCX.O jumped 2.2 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

But not all tech stock were higher. Linux distributor Red Hat RHT.N , up 85 percent this year, fell 2.3 percent after its quarterly report. BIIB.O rose 1.2 percent after Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) raised its rating to "outperform", saying Wall Street is underestimating the sales potential for key drug, Spinraza, outside the United States in 2018.

US STOCKS-Wall St set for strong open as tax bill nears passage

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