US STOCKS-Wall St to rise on ECB hopes, merger activity
* Hillshire Brands shares jump after Pilgrim's Pride bid
* Cisco shares up on Deutsche Bank upgrade, price target hike
* Aeropostale jumps after it secures $150 mln credit facility
* Futures up: Dow 72 pts, S&P 8 pts, Nasdaq 18 pts (Updates prices, adds data)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, May 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to rise at the open on Tuesday supported by merger activity and as expectations for rates cuts by the European Central Bank stoked bids for equities even after the benchmark S&P 500 index closed at a record on Friday.
* ECB chief Mario Draghi said on Monday the bank must be "particularly watchful" for any negative price spiral in the euro zone. That added to suggestions from other ECB policymakers that the bank was ready to cut rates next week to counter low inflation and weak lending in the euro zone, keeping asset purchases as an option.
* Data was also supportive of equities. Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods unexpectedly rose in April even as a measure of business capital spending plans dropped, and home prices rose in March more than expected.
* Other U.S. data due later in the day include Markit's final services sector PMI for May at 9:45 a.m. (1345 GMT) and the Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT). Continuación...