Stock index futures edged up on Monday as hopes for a strong earnings season offset some concerns about another earthquake in Japan.
Aluminum maker Alcoa
The good news for bulls as we enter earnings season is that expectations appear to be low, said Todd Salamone, senior vice president of research at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Another strong aftershock struck northeast Japan on Monday and an advisory warned of a possible tsunami for the coast.
Resource-related stocks will be in focus as copper prices advanced on a weaker dollar and encouraging China trade data. Gold hit a record high, while silver climbed to its highest in more than three decades.
China recorded a rare trade deficit in the first quarter of the year due to domestic economic strength and rising global commodity prices, the customs administration said on Sunday.
U.S. President Barack Obama will lay out his approach for long-term deficit reduction later this week, his senior adviser David Plouffe said on Sunday. Obama will look at the Medicare and Medicaid government healthcare programs for the elderly and the poor to see what kind of savings are possible, Plouffe told NBC's Meet the Press.
After three months of solid gains that have brought stocks to close to 2 1/2-year highs, some analysts said the U.S. earnings season may not be the time for investors to buy aggressively since this year's winners already reflect earnings optimism.
S&P 500 futures rose 3 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 added 32 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 7.75 points.
Brent crude fell below $126 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures slipped after touching a 2-1/2-year high as the African Union said Muammar Gaddafi had accepted a road map to end the civil war in Libya.
The group said Gaddafi has accepted an immediate ceasefire and added that the issue of his stepping down had also been discussed. Rebels have said they will accept nothing less than an end to Gaddafi's four decades in power, but Libyan officials say he will not quit.
U.S. stocks fell late on Friday as a spike in oil prices revived worries that inflation would derail the recovery, jolting a market that had been treading water ahead of corporate earnings.
(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)