S&P 500 soars

U.S. stock futures rose, after the best week for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (CME:SPU14) since April, as European equities climbed on prospects for increased stimulus and Burger King Worldwide Inc. rallied on merger activity.

Burger King added 13% and Tim Hortons Inc. jumped 16% after the companies said the second-largest U.S. burger chain is in talks to buy the Canadian seller of coffee and doughnuts. InterMune Inc. surged 36% after Roche Holding AG purchased the biotechnology company for $8.3 billion.

Futures on the S&P 500 expiring in September rose 0.4% to 1,996.2 at 8:57 a.m. in New York. The benchmark index advanced 1.7% last week. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts added 64 points, or 0.4%, to 17,057 today.

“There are a lot of positive fundamentals which support further momentum in the housing market,” Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Hellerup, Denmark, said in a phone interview. “Good housing data would support the view that the U.S. economy is growing quite well.”

The S&P 500 rose for a third straight week, reaching an all-time high on Aug. 21, on bets the Federal Reserve will support the economy by keeping interest rates low even as the economy shows signs of gaining strength.

Global central bankers led by Fed Chair Janet Yellen said labor markets still have further to heal before their economies can weather higher interest rates. Even as they signaled international monetary policies are set to diverge amid differing levels of recovery, officials meeting over the weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said increases in hiring and wages are still needed to drive demand.

ECB Stimulus

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index jumped 0.7% today as comments by Mario Draghi fanned speculation the European Central Bank is closer to quantitative easing. ECB policy makers “stand ready to adjust our policy stance further” and will use all available instruments to “ensure price stability over the medium term,” Draghi said on Aug. 22.

Data from housing to manufacturing last week indicated that the U.S. economy continues to recover.

A report at 10 a.m. in Washington may show U.S. new-home sales rose to a 429,000 annualized pace in July from 406,000 in June, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

Futures trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange halted for as long as four hours yesterday because of a technical problem, affecting contracts from U.S. stock indexes to Treasuries, oil and gold. CME Group Inc. suspended all of its Globex electronic-trading markets except for Malaysian equity-index derivatives, according to its website. Trading, which was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Chicago time for some products, began at 9 p.m.

Burger King

Burger King, the burger chain that is majority-owned by 3G Capital, added 13% to $30.60 today. The merger would create the world’s third-largest fast-food chain, and Burger King would move its headquarters to Canada. The corporate tax rate there is 26.5%, compared with 40% in the U.S., according to audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG’s website.

Tim Hortons, Canada’s biggest seller of coffee and doughnuts, jumped 16% to $72.97.

InterMune surged 36% to $73.30. Roche will buy the unprofitable company that’s awaiting U.S. approval of its biggest drug, for $74 a share, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said yesterday in a statement.

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