The U.S. stock index futures point to a lower open Monday as investors continue to worry that the looming fiscal cliff will have a marked impact on the economic recovery.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.17 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.16 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.26 percent. 

Investors are expected to continue to focus on how and when the fiscal cliff issue will be resolved. On Friday, the U.S. stocks were mixed as investors persisted to maintain a watchful mode waiting for the Congress leaders to make progress in reaching an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff and prevent the scheduled rise in tax rates and spending cuts from plunging the economy into recession early next year.

Meanwhile, according to the data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nonfarm payrolls report, which measures the change in the number of people employed during the previous month, excluding the farming industry, rose 146,000 in November, up from 138,000 in October. Also, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate, which measures the percentage of the total workforce that was unemployed and actively seeking employment during the previous month, rose 7.7 percent in November down from 7.9 percent in October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.62 percent, the S&P 500 Index was up 0.29 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.38 percent.

Asian stocks rose Monday as investor sentiment turned positive amid better than expected factory output and retail sales for November reported by China. According to data released Sunday by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the country’s industrial production, which measures the change in the total inflation-adjusted value of output produced by manufacturers, mines, and utilities, rose 10.1 percent in November, up from 9.6 percent in October and above the analysts expectation of 9.8 percent.

Also, the data released Sunday by the National Bureau of Statistics of China showed that the country’s retail sales, which measure the change in the total value of inflation-adjusted sales at the retail level, rose to 14.9 percent in November, up from 14.5 percent in October and also more than the analysts expectation of 14.6 percent.

China’s Shanghai Composite gained 21.98 points, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 64.35 points and Japan’s Nikkei was up 6.36 points.  

European markets fell Monday as investor confidence was weighed down by the political instability in Italy. Market players were concerned as Italian Prime Minister Monti said Saturday that he intended to resign after the budget for 2013 was approved. London's FTSE 100 was down 9.51 points, Germany's DAX 30 index fell 37.11 points and France's CAC 40 declined 16.32 points.