Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange January 6, 2012. REUTERS

(REUTERS) -- Stock index futures pointed to a stronger open for equities on Wall Street on Tuesday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 up 0.9-1.0 percent.

Alcoa Inc posted a fourth quarter loss due to a steep plunge in aluminum prices, but its revenue beat expectations and the company gave a positive outlook for global demand for the metal, especially in the aerospace and automotive markets.

Alcoa's Chairman and Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld expects the global aluminum market to turn into a deficit this year, as biggest consumer China closes inefficient capacity even though demand remains robust.

TSMC, the world's top contract chip maker, posted its lowest sales in 22 months in December as the semiconductor industry struggles with shrinking demand and a slowing economy, but it managed to post humble growth for the full year, outshining smaller cross-town rival UMC.

Liz Claiborne Inc , which recently announced a name change, cut its outlook for the year as the company expects to push more of its cost cuts to 2013, sending its shares down 12 percent after the bell.

Raymond James Financial Inc is in the lead to buy brokerage Morgan Keegan from Regions Financial Corp in a deal that would bolster the firm's prowess in trading securities for customers, according to people familiar with the situation.

Microsoft Corp said on Monday sales of its revolutionary Kinect sensing device for the Xbox game console have hit more than 18 million just over a year since launch.

Oshkosh Corp said in a presentation to investors that billionaire investor Carl Icahn has indicated he would like to buy 20 percent of the company, up from the 10 percent stake he already owns.

Ford Motor Co chief financial officer Lewis Booth plans to retire in the first half of this year, two people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has urged banks to publish more details about their exposure to European sovereign debt, a factor in the recent bankruptcy of the futures brokerage MF Global Holdings Ltd .

The euro currency held its ground in Asia on Tuesday but faces pressure later this week ahead of Italian and Spanish debt auctions. The euro stood at $1.2767 after an overnight bounce off a 16-month low of $1.2666. Traders said buying ahead of a $1.2650 option barrier prompted some short-covering as Japanese traders returned after a holiday.

KKR & Co has made a buyout approach to Australian underwear manufacturer Pacific Brands that a newspaper said could be worth $614 million, boosting its shares 20 percent and sparking talk other firms could attract similar offers.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares rose 1.5 percent, led by mining stocks, following encouraging results from Alcoa.

U.S. stocks ended slightly higher on Monday in a light-volume session as investors stayed cautious ahead of corporate earnings and key auctions for European debt this week.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 32.62 points, or 0.26 percent, to 12,392.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 2.89 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,280.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 2.34 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,676.56.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)