(REUTERS) -- Stock index futures rose on Tuesday as investors looked to corporate profits as earnings season picks up and Chinese data fueled the belief the government may move to stimulate growth.
China's economy grew slightly more than expected but at the weakest pace in 2-1/2 years, suggesting the government may act to increase growth in the near future.
Corporate earnings are due from Citigroup Inc , Forest Laboratories Inc , Linear Technology Corp , M&T Bank Corp , and Wells Fargo & Co . Profit outlooks will be monitored for insight on how the euro zone debt crisis affected multinational companies.
Citigroup was up 2.2 percent to $31.40 and Wells Fargo added 1.9 percent to $30.18 in premarket trade.
Investors appeared set to shrug off a cut in the credit rating of the Eurozone's rescue fund by Standard & Poor's by one notch, apparently relieved the downgrade was not more severe. The move comes after Friday's widely expected downgrade of a number of Eurozone countries.
Much of the negative Eurozone news, such as the downgrades on Friday, has been discounted in investors' minds, with the relative mindset of, 'It could have been worse,' said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.
Investors are pinning hopes on improved economic news as well as a benign earnings front.
S&P 500 futures rose 12 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 climbed 118 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 26 points.
In the only notable U.S. economic data expected on Tuesday, the New York Federal Reserve will release its Empire State manufacturing survey for January at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expected a reading for the main index of 11.00, compared with 9.53 in December.
Carnival Corp slumped 17.4 percent to $28.30 in premarket trade after its Italian unit, Costa Crociere, attempted to locate missing passengers after its cruise liner capsized.
France's EDF SA agreed to drop its opposition to power group Exelon Corp's purchase of Constellation Energy Group Inc after reaching a deal to protect the operating independence of a nuclear joint venture with Constellation.
AIA Group Ltd, Asia's No. 3 insurer that is about one-third owned by American International Group Inc , may bid for the $6 billion Asian insurance operations of ING Groep , sources said.
European stock indexes broke though key technical levels to hit five-month highs in early Tuesday trade, with miners among the biggest gainers after economic growth data from top metals user China topped forecasts.
Asian shares rose on the Chinese data.
(Reporting By Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)