Stock index futures rose sharply on Tuesday as upbeat Chinese and German data boosted optimism about the global economy after the S&P 500 index ended flat in 2011.

Global markets rallied, including in Asia where data showed improvement in Chinese manufacturing, while European shares also rose, led by mining stocks after the Chinese data lifted hopes that demand would be strong for metals.

The world's largest consumer of metals, avoided contraction in December, albeit slightly.

Also boosting sentiment, German unemployment fell more than forecast.

Investors could get more signals about a U.S. economic recovery, with data from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Index of National Factory Activity for December as well as November construction spending, both due at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).

November construction spending is expected to show a gain of 0.5 percent, versus 0.8 percent, according to a Reuters survey of economists. The ISM manufacturing index is forecast rising to 53.2 percent in December from 52.7 percent in the previous month.

The Federal Open Market Committee will release minutes from its December 13 meeting is due at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT).

A combination of beginning of the year giddiness and better than expected economic data in Asia and in Europe has the S&P futures well bid, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

But concerns about the euro zone debt crisis continued on the first trading day of the new year.

S&P 500 futures rose 18.4 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 jumped 180 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 38.5 points.

The broad S&P 500 ended flat for 2011. It lost a mere 0.003 percent, the closest to unchanged since 1947, according to Standard & Poor's.

Barclays Capital has downgraded five semiconductor stocks including Intel Corp , saying the sector is in for a volatile 2012 as an inventory correction extends into the first quarter, with a recovery due only in the second half.

Intel shares were up 1.4 percent at $24.58 in premarket trade.

Starbucks Corp shares will be in view after the coffee shop chain said it was raising prices in the U.S. Northeast and Sunbelt by an average of about 1 percent.

Jefferies & Co upgraded American Eagle Outfitters Inc and Ann Inc to buy, saying U.S. specialty retailers could see better margins this year due to a slow but ongoing consumer recovery, combined with normalized cotton costs. Shares of American Eagle Outfitters rose 3.1 percent in premarket trade at $15.77.

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet small business lending index showed borrowing by small U.S. businesses hit its highest level in nearly four years in November and suggested an economy recovery was gathering momentum.

(Reporting By Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)