Before the bell: What you need to know before the US market open

Billy Bambrough
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Amazon has finally decided to bring its Echo voice assistant to the UK (Source: Getty)

US seeds company Monsanto has accepted a takeover offer from German chemicals company Bayer, marking the biggest deal of 2016. Meanwhile, stocks are floating on a sea of green.

Here's what you need to know before the US market open at 2:30pm London time.

US stocks are pointing higher in the pre-market. The S&P is up by 0.2 per cent ahead of the open, while the Nasdaq is up by 0.28 per cent, and the Dow is 0.16 per cent higher. The US 10-year yield is down one basis point at 1.72 per cent.

Across Europe markets have had a broadly positive start to the session, while Asian stocks stocks underperformed earlier in the day.

The biggest deal of 2016 so far...

Bayer had to increase its offer to $128 per share, equal to around $66bn (£50bn), before Monsanto felt able to agree.

The offer represents a 44 per cent premium on Monsanto's share price on 9 May, before the first formal offer was made.

It's more than double the previous biggest 2016 deal: The $32bn merger between Shire and Baxalta.

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Meanwhile, in the UK wage growth edged down in the three months to the end of July, official figures today suggested. But there was a silver lining, as the number of people in employment hit its highest since records began in the early 1970s.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed average weekly earnings including bonuses increased 2.3 per cent from the three months to the end of April to the three months to the end of July.

Stocks to watch

Amazon is finally launching its virtual home assistant Echo outside the US. The first international markets to get their hands on the voice-activated assistant will be the UK and Germany.

It lets users control their home and do tasks online via simple voice commands and is powered by Amazon's Alexa, an artificial intelligence voice assistant similar to Apple's Siri.

Shares in Ruby Tuesday are faring surprisingly well in the pre-market after the restaurant chain announced chief executive James Buettgen is leaving the company, on top of a warning it will report a loss in the latest quarter. The chain has also seen declining restaurant sales.

Read more: Finance watchdog slaps former Barclays wealth and investment manager with ban

Phone maker Samsung is hoping it can slow its declining share price with a software fix next week for Note 7 phones in its home market of South Korea to prevent the devices from catching fire. The company says the software fix will prevent Note 7 batteries from charging above 60 per cent of their capacity.

Activist investor Carl Icahn wants to own 50 per cent of Herbalife, sending its shares higher.

Companies reporting

Another quiet day for corporate data, with next to no companies of note reporting results.

In economic news

The Department of Energy's oil inventory data will be released at 3:30pm London time.

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