Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange November 1, 2011. REUTERS

Stocks were set for a higher open on Tuesday as Italian lawmakers prepared for a crucial vote on public finances that marks the latest turn in the long-simmering euro zone debt crisis.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faced a crucial vote on public finances in parliament that could derail his center-right coalition if enough party rebels desert him. Berlusconi's closest coalition ally told him to resign.

There is not a lot to focus on in terms of fundamentals, so we are still trapped in this headline box, if you will, and every movement seems to be based on that, said Kevin Kruszenski, director of equity trading at KeyBanc Capital Markets in Cleveland.

Maybe it is just another nail in the coffin of the entire euro crisis, slowly but surely it seems to be sort of unfolding and progress is being made.

Italian 10-year borrowing costs touched a new record of 6.71 percent on Tuesday, raising the risk that Rome's massive debt -- the second highest in Europe at 120 percent of gross domestic product -- could spiral out of control.

Greek party leaders struggled to agree on a new prime minister in hopes a unity coalition can save the country's finances and end the chaos threatening the euro. The outgoing prime minister told an emergency cabinet session a consensus decision on a new leader would be made by Tuesday night.

The European Union has asked Greece to produce a letter promising implementation on a bailout deal and have it signed by various officials.

S&P 500 futures rose 8 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 78 points while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 20.5 points.

European shares rose 1.8 percent, bouncing back from two days of losses, as some encouraging earnings news and as investors bought beaten-down stocks after losses in the past two sessions. <.EU>

With little on the U.S. economic calendar this week and earnings season near an end, investors will be fixed on euro zone headlines. U.S. markets have been closely tied to the fortunes of the euro while volatility has been tethered to sovereign debt.

An experimental antidepressant from AstraZeneca Plc and Targacept Inc failed to meet the goal of changing a key depression rating score in the first of a series of pivotal clinical trials, a setback for both companies.

Targacept tumbled nearly 55 percent to $8.69 in premarket and U.S.-listed AstraZeneca shares lost 2.6 percent to $46.11.

Activision Blizzard Inc gained 2.9 percent to $14.14 premarket as the video-game maker began selling the highly anticipated new entry in its Call of Duty series.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)