U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday as optimism continued to permeate the market ahead of data on factory orders and car sales.

* The climb in futures followed a rise in U.S. stock indexes on Monday on encouraging signs about the outlook for manufacturing around the world that prompted investors to inject new money into equities.

* Coming on the heels of recent data pointing to a growing economic recovery, investors will eye the Commerce Department's release of November factory orders at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), with economists expecting a drop of 0.1 percent, compared with a 0.9 percent fall in the prior month.

* Monthly auto sales figures will also be closely watched. Fifteen economists surveyed by Reuters forecast December auto sales of about 12.3 million on the annualized and seasonally adjusted basis tracked by the industry.

* S&P 500 futures rose 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 48 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 7.5 points.

* Investors will look into Federal Open Market Committee minutes from the December 14 meeting for clues on the U.S. central bank's outlook on the economy. The minutes are due at 2 p.m. EST.

* European stocks were up more than 1 percent, with oil major BP Plc up 5.4 percent after Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reported rival Royal Dutch Shell had considered a takeover bid during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Asian markets were also broadly higher. <.EU>

* Mining stocks will be in focus as floodwaters eased in Australia's major coal mining region, allowing some mines to slowly resume production although most remained idle.

* General Motors Co said it sold 2.35 million vehicles in China in 2010, up 28.8 percent from a year earlier.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)