May 2, 2016 / 1:02 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher as investors await data

* Baker Hughes falls after merger with Halliburton scrapped

* Apollo Education up 12 pct on raised buyout offer

* Futures up: Dow 42 pts, S&P 6 pts, Nasdaq 9.5 pts (Adds comments, details; updates shares)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

May 2 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open slightly higher on the first trading day of the month on Monday as investors await manufacturing data to further assess the health of the world’s largest economy.

Investors have been keeping a sharp eye on data after the U.S. Federal Reserve held monetary policy steady last week, and gave no signals that it was in a hurry to tighten further.

Economists polled by Reuters expect two increases this year but futures prices show traders do not expect rates to rise until late 2016, according to CME Group’s FedWatch.

Wall Street closed lower on Friday, with U.S. stocks marking their largest weekly drop in more than two months as corporate earnings continued to disappoint.

“I suspect for some stability to come in after the selloff in the last couple of days,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Louisville, Kentucky-based Janlyn Capital.

“Everyone is looking for doom and gloom, and we may get it at some point, but for the moment, it appears that there is a predisposition to buying.”

Oil prices retreated from the year’s highs as rising production in the Middle East outweighed a decline the United States.

Data released on Sunday showed China’s manufacturing sector expanded marginally in April, missing estimates and raising doubts about the sustainability of a recent pick-up in the country’s economy.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.29 percent, with 141,908 contracts traded at 8:18 a.m. ET (1218 GMT). Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 9.5 points, or 0.22 percent, on volume of 21,453 contracts. Dow e-minis were up 42 points, or 0.24 percent, with 17,736 contracts changing hands.

The ISM purchasing managers’ index is expected to have slipped to 51.4 percent in April from 51.8 percent in March. The data is expected at 09:45 a.m. ET.

The Commerce Department’s construction spending report is likely to show outlays rebounded 0.5 percent in March after dropping by the same percentage in February. The data is expected at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart is scheduled to speak at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Financial Markets conference in Amelia Island, Florida at 8:50 a.m. ET and San Francisco Fed President John Williams will speak at the Milken Institute 2016 Global Conference in Beverly Hills at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Baker Hughes shares fell 0.4 percent to $48.15 in premarket trading after the company said it would buy back stock and repay debt after the company and larger rival Halliburton scrapped a deal to merge. Halliburton shares rose 1.06 percent to $41.75.

Apollo Education was up 12.6 percent at $8.78 after a group of investors raised their offer to $1.14 billion to buy the for-profit education provider.

GNC Holdings rose 6.7 percent at $26 after the nutritional supplements company said it was exploring strategic alternatives. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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