Stock index futures rose on Tuesday as fourth-quarter earnings season began with a profit from Alcoa that topped Wall Street targets and as concerns over European debt eased.
Alcoa's demand outlook was very optimistic, and the fact that it beat on the bottom line sets the stage for other companies to beat, said Cort Gwon, director of trading strategies and research at FBN Securities in New York.
Alcoa's shares dipped 0.7 percent to $16.37 in premarket trading but have gained 25.5 percent since the start of December. Stocks have rallied in recent weeks in part on hopes of a strong earnings season.
European shares rose 1 percent as reassuring comments from Portugal's prime minister eased worries about the country's debt level. U.S. and European stocks were pressured on Monday on concerns the country would need a bailout.
The comments out of Portugal suggest they won't ask the EU for any aid, at least not right now, Gwon said. That's reassuring, and it will allow the market to focus on U.S. earnings instead of sovereign debt.
S&P 500 futures rose 5.5 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 added 47 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 12.25 points.
The S&P has found technical support near its 14-day moving average, which is around 1,264. The index closed at 1,269.75 on Monday.
Supermarket chain Supervalu Inc
Both Sears Holding Corp
U.S. wholesale inventories for November will be reported at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) on an otherwise light day for economic data. Inventories were expected to gain 1.0 percent after a 1.9 percent rise in October. Estimates for November ranged from 0.5-2.0 percent in a Reuters poll.
On Monday, U.S. stocks recovered most of their early losses in light volume to end slightly lower as prospects for strong earnings helped counter worries about Portugal.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)