Stocks were set to rise about 1 percent at the open on Tuesday after Chinese economic data drew investors into an equities market that has been through six weeks of sharp declines.
Retail sales declined, though less than forecast, giving a further boost to futures and some respite to investors overwhelmed by recent weak economic data.
Despite the jump in futures, some investors were still focused on a retreat in the S&P 500 index to its March low near the 1,250 level. The index closed at 1,271.83 on Monday.
The consumer isn't dead, said Michael Farr, president of investment management firm Farr, Miller & Washington in Washington. I question the sustainability, given the high levels of debt that consumers hold and the unemployment rate. But we don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. It's good news for the day.
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S&P 500 futures rose 12.5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 95 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 19.5 points.
The S&P 500 is down more than 7 percent from its high in early May as soft data sparked worries about the sustainability of the economic recovery.
I think we're seeing a dead cat bounce (on the equities market), Farr said. It could take time before the market finds a new bottom.
Inflation is still a concern in China after data showed consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in almost three years, but industrial output grew 13.3 percent from a year ago, in line with forecasts.
China's central bank later increased the reserve requirement ratio for commercial lenders by 50 basis points.
The Chinese output data helped boost metals prices, lifting mining and industrial shares. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc
News out of China is somewhat encouraging in spite of the fact they raised reserve requirements, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York. He said the data is a sign that perhaps China's economy can avoid a hard landing, and that's cheering the markets.
The real focus will be on the fact that the market is in a technical correction, Cardillo said. we have options expiration this week, so any rallies might continue to be short-lived.
Options expiration alters the market regardless of fundamentals as traders and investors try to pin, or lock in the S&P 500 at a preset level to make their bets more profitable.
The European debt crisis is still in the forefront as policymakers remained divided over how to involve the private sector in Greece's next bailout package, which is expected to be finalized at a Brussels summit on June 23-24.
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Investors awaited data on business inventories due at 10 a.m. EDT.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)