U.S. stock index futures were more than 1 percent higher on Monday following four weeks of equity losses as stocks rebounded globally, led by defensive shares.
European stocks gained 2.1 percent, with defensive sectors such as pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and utilities leading a rally following last week's sharp losses. The MSCI world equity index rose 0.4 percent. <.EU>
Equities have been pressured by growing concerns about the economy, given a rash of weaker-than-expected data and the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe.
Investors also looked ahead to a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday at the central bank's annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Some investors hoped the Fed will announce a new form of stimulus, even as the central bank promised earlier this month to keep interest rates near zero for at least two more years, and said it would consider further steps to help growth. The Fed said U.S. economic growth was proving considerably weaker than expected.
This month has been about a lack of confidence, and if Bernanke announces the injection of additional stimulus, that will give the markets confidence that something is being done, which should at least decrease some of the volatility we've been seeing, said Tim Speiss, head of personal wealth advisors at EisnerAmper in New York.
The S&P has fallen more than 13 percent so far in August, with recent volatility resulting in six days over the past two weeks where the index has fallen at least 4 percent. Some investors believe the speed and size of the drops suggested the market could be oversold.
Maybe the losses were too extreme of a reaction for some of the stocks that got hit, said Speiss. The underlying fundamentals remain quite good on some names, and this gives us the chance to redeploy into some of those positions.
S&P 500 futures rose 17.7 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 149 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 35.25 points.
Libyan government tanks and snipers put up scattered, last-ditch resistance in Tripoli on Monday after rebels swept into the heart of the capital, raising hopes the government of Muammar Gaddafi might be toppled soon.
The end of Gaddafi's rule could restart the flow of Libyan oil onto the market. Tensions in the Middle East, and a spike on oil prices, contributed to equity weakness earlier this year. September U.S. crude futures rose 1.1 percent, though Brent crude was down 0.8 percent. Gold rallied 1.2 percent, nearing $1,900 an ounce.
About 45,000 striking Verizon Communications Inc
Earnings season is drawing to a close, with H.J. Heinz Co
While a majority of S&P components have topped expectations, the quarterly reports have often not been enough to offset larger macroeconomic concerns.
Wall Street ended a fourth straight down week, with losses of more than 1 percent on Friday as most buyers left the market before the weekend. Growing fears of another U.S. recession and destabilization in Europe's financial system weighed on investors' minds.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)