Stock index futures rose on Monday on growing hopes Europe will sort out its tangled debt issues and as metals prices advanced on bets of a stronger global economy.

In addition, news of mergers and acquisitions indicated attractive stock valuations. In the latest deal, diversified industrial company Danaher Corp agreed to buy medical diagnostics company Beckman Coulter Inc in a transaction valued at about $6.8 billion. Beckman shares jumped 10 percent before the market's open.

Basic materials stocks will be in focus as the price of copper hit a record on concerns about supply and as economic data recently boosted the outlook for demand. Mining stocks led European shares higher.

Copper continues to make new highs, which is a good indication the global economy is strengthening, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York. Earnings continue to beat expectations and M&A continues. There's enthusiasm for equities in the U.S.

More than 70 percent of the S&P 500 companies have reported earnings above estimates so far, according to Thomson Reuters data. Investors expect aggregate earnings rose 37 percent in the last quarter, the highest estimate for that period in more than 10 months.

S&P 500 futures rose 4 points and were above 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 gained 30 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.25 points.

In a sign of a more stable debt market in Europe, demand for Portugal's five-year syndicated bond is around 6 billion euros, double the minimum placement announced earlier, Treasury Secretary Carlos Pina said on Monday.

Health insurer Humana Inc posted a lower quarterly net profit, hurt by expenses, but raised its 2011 profit forecast.

News that computer hackers had infiltrated the operator of the Nasdaq Stock Exchange could be another blow to investor confidence, as Wall Street works to repair an image with investors and traders dented by last year's flash crash.

Struggling U.S. Internet company AOL Inc has agreed to buy The Huffington Post, the influential and rapidly growing news, analysis and lifestyle website, for $315 million, AOL said on Monday.

Ford Motor Co will increase production for deliveries to its U.S. dealers by 13 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and may add third shifts to some of its plants, Ford sales executives said on Sunday. The carmaker's shares gained 1 percent to $15.87 premarket.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's new cabinet holds its first full meeting Monday since a civil uprising started nearly two weeks ago, with no concrete progress in talks with an opposition which demands his immediate exit.

Unrest in Egypt propelled North Sea Brent crude oil futures back above $100 a barrel on worries it could spread to other parts of the Middle East and north Africa, disrupting energy supplies.

Some investors have noted a spike in oil prices might become a headwind for the global economy and hurt equity markets.

The S&P 500 <.SPX> posted its best week in nine on Friday as investors rotated into defensive and lagging sectors, with both the Dow Jones <.DJI> and the S&P 500 making new 2 1/2-year highs. Analysts see further gains in store for equity markets as economic growth accelerates.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)