New York - US stock index futures edged higher on Monday as a weak reading on Chinese manufacturing raised hopes that the Chinese government would issue new stimulus to combat slowing momentum, though ongoing tensions in Ukraine weighed on sentiment.
Recent momentum on Wall Street has been to the upside, with the S&P 500 hitting an intraday record on Friday, though it subsequently ended the day lower.
The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet. Credit: REUTERS
Equities have been lifted by some positive domestic data, and a belief that the biggest East-West conflict since the Cold War won't escalate.
Concerns about the region continued on Monday as Russian troops seized a Ukrainian marine base in Crimea, the latest in a confrontation that has prompted the United States and European Union to respond with personal sanctions against some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's political and business allies.
While few US companies have excessive exposure to the region, investors are concerned about the potential economic fallout of any further escalation in tensions.
China's manufacturing engine contracted in the first quarter of 2014, according to the flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index.
The report came in below expectations but raised hopes for new stimulative measures.
Accommodative monetary policies from the US Federal Reserve have fuelled market gains for months, though the central bank has gradually been withdrawing stimulus.
Last week, concerns mounted after Fed Chair Janet Yellen raised the possibility of an earlier-than-expected increase in interest rates.
S&P 500 futures rose 3.9 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 added 25 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9 points.
Both the Dow and S&P closed their third positive week of the past four last week, while the Nasdaq has been up for six of the past seven weeks.
Investors are looking ahead to the final March reading on manufacturing from financial data firm Markit.
The report is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET (15:45 GMT) and is seen slowing slightly from the previous month.
Herbalife Ltd said it would allow three more representatives of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, the company's biggest shareholder, to join its board. Shares of the nutrition and weight-loss company jumped 8 percent to $53.50 in premarket trading.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple Inc was in talks with Comcast Corp to enter a deal for a streaming-television service that would allow Apple set-top boxes to bypass congestion on the web.
The companies declined to comment on the report.
Nokia Corp said it doesn't expect to close the sale of its phone business to Microsoft until April as talks with Asian regulators drag on, fuelling speculation it may have to make more concessions to get the deal done.
US shares of Nokia rose 3 cents to $7.20 in premarket trading. - Reuters