U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Monday on optimism over holiday retail sales and as concerns eased that a possible debt default by two of Dubai's flagship firms could damage a global economic recovery.
Retail stocks were in focus after data showed U.S. consumers spent much less per person than last year as the holiday shopping season started this weekend.
But online sales are expected to be strong on Cyber Monday, as consumers seek more deals on the Web.
The numbers weren't bad. They weren't out of the park good but then again nobody expected them to be good, said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co in San Francisco.
We will see a more normalized sales season, and that means overall sales will be up from last year, and that is what the market is looking at this morning.
The Dubai government disclaimed responsibility on Monday for the debts of the Dubai World conglomerate, squashing creditor hopes that the emirate would guarantee its liabilities. But investors did not expect tremors would be minor in U.S. equities markets.
S&P 500 futures rose 2.7 points and were below 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 20 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 5.25 points.
On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates offered banks emergency support, the first steps in easing fears of a looming debt default by the two Dubai firms.
Dubai last week asked for a six-month repayment freeze on debt issued by state conglomerate Dubai World and its Nakheel construction unit.
In equities news, UBS downgraded the industrial sector to underweight from neutral, saying a continued weakness in demand was limiting improvement in capacity utilization rates and pricing.
Economic data scheduled for Monday includes the Chicago Purchasing Manager's index (PMI) for November, a key indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said Sunday he will not vote to reconfirm Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve in a preview of the rough treatment Bernanke may get this week on Capitol Hill.
The central bank chief will testify Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee at a hearing on his nomination to a second four-year term.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)