NYSE 28March2013
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, March 28, 2013. Reuters

U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Monday ahead of the publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Index.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.82 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.94 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 1.01 percent.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey for June is due to be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists polled by Reuters predict that the index, which rates the relative level of the general business conditions in New York State, is likely to show a reading of zero, slightly improved in comparison to -1.4 recorded in May.

The Fed survey fell by 5.5 points last month to enter into contraction territory for the first time since January. A reading below zero signals worsening business conditions.

On the housing front, the National Association of Home Builder’s (NAHB) Housing Market Index is expected to show that homebuilder confidence in the U.S. single family home market according to a Reuters estimate slightly increased to a reading of 45 in June from the previous month’s reading of 44.

Meanwhile, investors opted for caution ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee’s, FOMC, two-day meet beginning on Tuesday, which could provide hints about the future of the Fed's bond-buying program.

“Although no change in policy settings is expected the ability of Fed Chairman Bernanke to communicate effectively the Fed’s strategy over ‘tapering’ will be crucial to determine whether market volatility persists or lessens. Ultimately, markets are likely to successfully transition to a world of reduced Fed asset purchases but this may take a while,” a note from Credit Agricole said.

European markets advanced in early trade on Monday. London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.86 percent, Germany's DAX-30 gained 1.37 percent, while France's CAC-40 advanced 1.71 percent.

Earlier, Asian stock markets mostly ended on a positive note. Japan’s Nikkei surged 2.73 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 1.22 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite index declined 0.27 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.32 percent.

Earlier on Monday, India's central bank Reserve Bank of India acted on expected lines, choosing to leave the benchmark repo rate and the cash reserve ratio unchanged at 7.25 percent and 4 percent respectively. India’s benchmark BSE Sensex ended the day up 0.77 percent while the rupee, which hit a record low of 58.98 against the dollar last Tuesday, was trading at 57.71 in late afternoon trade.