Stocks were set to open about one percent higher on Monday, supported by European and Asian equities that rallied partly on a possible merger between two big banks in Greece.
Wall Street traders were also relieved that Hurricane Irene caused less damage than feared in New York City over the weekend.
The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq said they will be operating normally, although volumes were expected to be thin. Many Wall Street workers were stuck at home as commuter rail and bus lines were shut down and the New York City subway system slowly returned to service early Monday after being closed down.
The trading volume is likely to be moderate, but we are looking at a higher open today, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
S&P 500 futures rose 14 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 124 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures put on 25.5 points.
EFG Eurobank (EFGr.AT) and Alpha Bank (ACBr.AT) will unveil a merger deal, sources told Reuters, with Qatar, the second biggest shareholder in Alpha Bank, set to add more capital to the combination.
The Greek stock market rose more than 11 percent in response, with Greek banks jumping 30 percent. U.S.-listed shares of National Bank of Greece (NBG.N) soared 37.7 percent to $1.15 in premarket trade. European shares rose 1.2 percent. .EU
The merger between the Greek banks has set a positive tone for Wall Street, which is in for a full week of heavy economic data, Cardillo said.
U.S. consumer spending posted its largest increase in five months in July, data showed, supporting views the economy was not falling back into recession. Still, the market reaction was muted.
(The data) doesn't seem to be having much of an impact. I imagine getting through Irene without any major negative was enough to give the early lift. This data might help a little, said Brian Lazorishak, portfolio manager at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Hurricane Irene caused between $200 million and $400 million in insured losses in the Carolinas, according to catastrophe modeling company EQECAT, suggesting the storm was far less severe than the insurance industry feared.
Shares of insurance companies were in the spotlight. Travelers Cos Inc (TRV.N) rose 2.6 percent to $49.56 premarket.
Wall Street awaited pending homes sales data for July at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a decline of 1.3 percent in July, compared with an increase of 2.4 percent in the previous month.
On Friday, stocks posted their first weekly gain in more than a month as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke raised hopes for more stimulus for the economy.