US stocks opened higher on Monday, with S&P 500 Index gaining 3.00 points, or 0.24 percent, to trade at 1,246.91 at 09:50 a.m. EST. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 7.11 points, or 0.06 percent, to trade at 11,499.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.20 percent to trade at 2,648.31.

The sentiment is likely to be buoyed by the looming Christmas and year-end holiday period as last week's strong retail sales and housing data helped offset overseas concerns. President Barack Obama signing a $858 billion package Friday renewing tax cuts for another two years also added momentum.

The South Korean military has begun live-firing exercises on Yeonpyeong Island, the country's defense ministry announced on Monday.

Moody's Investor Services on Friday downgraded debt-stricken Ireland's rating by five notches.

On the corporate front, shares of AT&T Inc. are down 2 cents in early trade after the telecom bellwether announced its acquisition of wireless spectrum from Qualcomm Inc. for $1.925 billion to strengthen its advanced 4G mobile broadband offering. Shares of chipmaker are up 20 cents in early trade.

Sara Lee Corp., a consumer food company, is in talks to sell itself to a Brazilian meat-processing giant JBS SA, according to reports. Its share are up 1.23 percent.

Shares of web commerce company eBay Inc. are down 0.17 percent after the company said it will acquire brands4friends, the Berlin online shopping club, for $200 million.

Design-software maker Adobe Systems Inc. will release its fourth quarter numbers after the market closes. Its shares are up 1.39 percent to $29.18

On the currency front, the euro weakened 0.15 percent to 1.3167 against the dollar while the greenback fell 0.34 percent against the yen to 83.6890.

Crude oil futures gained 0.27 percent to $91.92/barrel while gold futures rose 0.45 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading higher with U.K. FTSE 100 up by 31.00 points, German DAX30 up by 71.33 points and French CAC 40 higher by 39.88 points.