Stock index futures pointed to a rise of nearly one percent on Tuesday after better-than-expected results from Alcoa Inc and CSX Corp gave a promising start to the earnings season.

Alcoa, the first Dow component to report, posted second-quarter earnings that beat expectations late on Monday, raising hopes of similarly strong results for other companies. Rail company CSX also posted a higher-than-expected profit.

The market has been in a holding pattern, waiting for confirmation that the recovery is intact. We got that yesterday with these results, said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Alcoa gained 3.9 percent to $11.29 in premarket trading while CSX was up 2.2 percent at $53.60.

Investors have been eagerly awaiting the season for confirmation that a recent rally was justified. Last week, the S&P posted its strongest week of the year, rising more than 5 percent.

The season continues in full force, with bellwether Intel Corp's results scheduled for release after the market closes, and JPMorgan Chase & Co and General Electric Co on tap for later this week.

The problem with the market has been a lack of visibility, and now we're getting that, said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York.

S&P 500 futures rose 8.5 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 64 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 15.5 points.

Concerns persisted about the euro-zone region after ratings agency Moody's Investor Service cut its rating on Portugal by two notches to A1, following a similar move by the S&P in April.

This is a bit of a negative, but the Spanish exchange is up right now, suggesting that people aren't as worried about the sovereign debt issue as they were, Kaufman said.

On the U.S. economic front, the country's trade deficit unexpectedly widened in May, led by a jump in imports from China, according to data from the Commerce Department. Markets did not move on the data.

U.S.-listed shares of BP Plc rose 2.5 percent to $37.67 in premarket trading as the company prepared to try and seal off its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico with a new cap that it says could finally arrest the flow of oil.

American International Group Inc rose 2.6 percent to $36.48 before the bell. The company's board is set to meet this week to consider the future of its AIA unit, with a public float seen as the most likely outcome, sources said on Tuesday.

Globally, Europe's pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of leading shares was up 1.7 percent and was on track to close higher for the sixth straight day. In Asia, equities were pressured by reports that China will not relax tougher property measures anytime soon, a move which touched a nerve among investors who are already sensitive to how much China's economy is slowing.

U.S. stocks closed slightly higher on Monday, a light-volume day as caution won out ahead of the earnings reports.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)