U.S. stock futures pointed to a modestly higher open on Monday as investors looked to new data later in the holiday-shortened week for clues over the direction of the recession-hit economy.
U.S. stocks have run up as much as 40 percent since early March but have drifted recently as investors looked for signs to justify earlier optimism over an economic economy that partly drove the rally.
The focus will be on the economic data in this abbreviated week, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partner in New York. What we are going to see is a market that is going to respond to the economic data, numbers that should continue to indicate improvement
The main focus later this week will be the June jobs report set for Thursday instead of Friday, when U.S. markets will be closed due to the U.S. Independence Day holiday.
Other key economic data will include the Conference Board's June consumer confidence report and the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index of June business activity in the U.S. Midwest, both due Tuesday, as well as the Institute for Supply Management June reading on manufacturing set for Wednesday.
S&P 500 futures rose 3.40 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 40 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 8 points.
Cardillo noted the market may also be affected by end-of-quarter window dressing as portfolio managers sell stocks with big losses and buy some of the quarter's best-performing issues to help improve their returns, a process that can add to volatility.
Shares of State Street Corp
Oil companies face tough time ahead as refining margins will remain weak for the next five years, with tighter environmental regulations sucking profits, the International Energy Agency said Monday.
Also, the IEA executive director said in an interview he remains very concerned that too rapid an oil price rise could derail any economic recovery.
Oil jumped more than 1 percent to nearly $70 per barrel after falling late last week.
Consulting firms Towers Perrin Forster & Crosby and Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc
Shares in Watson Wyatt fell 0.6 percent to $40.95 before the bell.
With corporate earnings and economic data calendars virtually free of any market-moving events on Monday, the sentencing of confessed swindler Bernard Madoff will be in the spotlight.
At a court hearing due to begin at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), U.S. District Judge Denny Chin is expected by legal observers to sentence Madoff, 71, to what would effectively be a life term in prison.
Big-cap technology company Microsoft Corp
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)