Futures on major U.S. stock indices point to higher opening on Tuesday after Alcoa kicked off the earnings season late Monday by reporting a better-than-expected fourth quarter profit.

Futures on the S&P 500 are up 0.32 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.35 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are up 0.30 percent.

Alcoa swung to fourth quarter profit of $258 million or $0.24 per share from a loss of $277 million, or$0.28 per share in the same quarter a year ago. Sales rose 4 percent to $5.65 billion. The company expects a 12 percent rise in demand for the metal in 2011, driven by aerospace and auto manufacturing.

On the economic front, reports on monthly wholesale inventories and IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism will be released after the market open, while ABC/Washington Post Consumer Confidence will be released after the markets close.

Shares of Apollo Group will be in focus after reporting better-than-expected first quarter earnings late Monday.

US stocks ended mixed on Monday, following a sell-off in Europe, on worries over Portugal possibly needing a financial bailout, ahead of the kick-off of the fourth-quarter earnings season.

European stock markets advanced, led by gains from banking sector after Japan said it will buy bonds to support Ireland. Markets are currently trading higher with FTSE 100 up by 71.83 points, DAX30 up by 44.31 points and CAC 40 up by 35.66 points.

The euro declined 0.04 percent to 1.2946 against the dollar and the yen declined 0.45 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures advanced 0.13 percent to $89.37/barrel and gold futures rose 0.57 percent.