Upward momentum from a raft of recent strong earnings reports helped lift U.S. stock index futures on Monday, although traders eyed rising oil prices as a potential negative for the market.
Of S&P 500 companies that have reported to date, 75 percent beat analysts' expectations. That is just above the average over the last four quarters but well above the average of 62 percent since 1994, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Companies reporting earnings on Monday include Express Scripts
With no negative news hitting the tapes recently, the market is riding a wave of positive earnings, which is carrying the recent upside momentum, said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York. All this in the face of higher oil prices.
Brent crude oil rose above $124 a barrel, pushed higher by an escalation of violence in the oil-producing Middle East, as well as post-election unrest in OPEC member Nigeria.
Bakhos noted that activity would likely be subdued as many major European markets remain closed over the long Easter weekend. U.S. traders are returning after markets were closed on Friday for the Easter holiday weekend.
Silver jumped more than 5 percent and gold rose to a record on Monday as investors sought shelter against a weaker dollar, while prices of grains and crude oil surged on supply fears.
S&P 500 futures added 3.4 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 34 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6.25 points.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is meeting this week and will hold the first of four news conferences on Wednesday. Investors are looking for clues about the direction of monetary policy when the Fed's bond-buying program ends in June.
Road construction equipment maker Astec Industries Inc
U.S. stocks posted their first positive week in three as healthy earnings news lifted Wall Street on Thursday.
Japan's Nikkei stock average inched down in thin trade on Monday as investors grew cautious ahead of key corporate earnings reports and a closely watched U.S. Federal Reserve meeting this week but buoyant shipping stocks provided support.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)