* Empire State manufacturing data miss estimates
* Euro hits fresh 12-year low, oil falls
* Futures up: Dow 96 pts, S&P 12.25 pts, Nasdaq 22.25 pts (Adds market moves, commentary)
By Sinead Carew
March 16 (Reuters) – S&P Futures were up on Monday, putting the benchmark S&P 500 on track for a rebound after three weeks of losses, as currency markets helped reassure U.S. investors concerned about how a strong dollar would hurt earnings.
The S&P 500 has fallen 2.7 percent in the last three weeks, including a 0.9 percent drop last week. The Dow lost 0.6 percent last week while the Nasdaq declined 1.1 percent.
Investors have been cautious ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve statement due on Wednesday, when they expect the central bank to give a clearer signal on the timing of its first interest rate hike in almost a decade.
A recovery in the euro was reassuring investors as a rapidly rising U.S. dollar would put even more pressure on U.S. corporate earnings, said Nick Colas, chief market strategist at brokerage Convergex, in New York.
“It seems like the currency markets are helping U.S. equities this morning,” Colas said. “What markets are looking for is lower volatility.”
Along with signals for a rate hike timing, investors will be anxious to hear what Fed Chair Janet Yellen has to say about the strong dollar on Wednesday, Colas said.
The euro found a foothold against the dollar on Monday, bolstered by concerns expressed by Italy’s central bank governor about the pace of its fall to 12-year lows, as the European Central Bank launched quantitative easing.
Manufacturing activity growth in New York State slowed in March for a second month in a row as the pace of new orders contracted to its weakest level since November 2013, a New York Federal Reserve survey showed on Monday.
Industrial production numbers are due out at 9:15 a.m. EDT (1315 GMT), while NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index data is scheduled for release at 10:00 a.m.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 12.25 points and fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract, indicating a higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 96 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 22.25 points.
Salix Pharmaceuticals shares rose 2 percent to $ 173 in premarket trade after it agreed to an increased $ 173 per share offer from Valeant Pharmaceuticals . It includes $ 1 billion more in cash for Salix shareholders, potentially ending a bidding war with Endo International Plc.
Life Time Fitness shares rose 5.3 percent after it said it would be acquired for more than $ 4 billion.
A. Schulman announced an agreement to buy privately-held specialty engineered plastics company Citadel in a deal valued at $ 800 million.
Brent crude oil fell to around $ 54 a barrel on Monday, its lowest for more than a month, on rising global inventories and signs of a possible nuclear deal with Tehran that could allow more Iranian oil exports.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)
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