US STOCKS-Futures point to gains after data and Caterpillar

* Caterpillar higher after fourth-quarter results

* S&P 500 coming off eight straight days of gains

* Bargain hunters may look at Apple following recent drop

* Futures up: Dow 22 pts, S&P 2 pts, Nasdaq 2 pts

(Adds durable goods data)

NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures

pointed to a modestly higher open on Monday following strong

data and results from Caterpillar, though gains were slight

after a rally that took the S&P 500 above 1,500 for the first

time in more than five years.

A strong start to the earnings season has boosted equities,

with major averages rising for four straight weeks. The S&P has

gained for eight straight days, its longest winning streak in

eight years.

Caterpillar Inc rose 2.5 percent to $98 in premarket

trading after the Dow component reported adjusted fourth-quarter

earnings that beat expectations, though revenue was slightly

below forecasts. The heavy machinery maker also said it remained

cautious on the economy despite recent improvements.

"You can't find more of a global bellwhether than Cat, and

people are pleased with the number, which suggests there could

be less concern about slowing growth in China after this," said

Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in

New York.

Thomson Reuters data through Friday showed that of the 147

S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 68 percent

exceeded expectations. Since 1994, 62 percent of companies have

topped expectations, while the average over the past four

quarters stands at 65 percent.

Yahoo Inc reports after the closing bell, and could

face heightened expectations following strong results at Google

Inc last week.

S&P 500 futures rose 2 points and were about even

with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into

account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the

contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 22

points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2 points.

The S&P 500 closed at its highest since Dec. 10, 2007, and

the Dow ended at its highest since Oct. 31, 2007. Over the past

four weeks, the S&P has jumped 7.2 percent, suggesting markets

may be vulnerable to a pullback if news disappoints.

Durable goods jumped 4.6 percent in December, a pace that

far outstriped expectations for a rise of 1.8 percent.

"We continue to have a parade of better-than-expected

economic reports. All-in-all it's a good picture. I think

there's a good chance we've reached a point of recognition where

people don't think the economy will crater," Kaufman said.

In addition to earnings, equities have also risen on an

agreement in Washington to extend the government's borrowing

power. On Monday, Fitch Ratings said that agreement removed the

near-term risk to the country's 'AAA' rating.

Previously, the agency said the lack of an agreement would

prompt a review of the sovereign rating.

In company news, Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc said

a late-stage trial of its experimental kidney disease drug met

the main study goal of reducing phosphate levels in blood,

sending shares up 41 percent to $4.84 in premarket trading.

Bargain hunters may look to Apple Inc in the first

session after the tech giant lost its coveted title as the

largest U.S. company by market capitalization to Exxon Mobil

Corp. On Friday, Apple's market cap fell to $413

billion, down roughly $250 billion from its September peak.

Apple's fall is about equal to the entire value of Google Inc

.

"Apple is pretty attractive right now, so you may see an

opportunity here," said Chris Bertelsen, who helps oversee $1.5

billion as chief investment officer of Global Financial Private

Capital in Sarasota, Florida. "Those who think the stock is dead

have made a big mistake."

U.S. stocks rose on Friday, lifted by strong results from

such companies as Procter & Gamble. The rise put the S&P

500 about 4.1 percent away from its all-time closing high of

1,565.15 on Oct. 9, 2007.

(Editing by W Simon and Kenneth Barry)

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