New York - US stock index futures rose on Monday as investor bet that the exit of Lawrence Summers as a candidate for chairman of the Federal Reserve could mean a slower tapering of monetary stimulus by the US central bank.
* News of Summers' surprise decision on Sunday afternoon came before the US central bank meets on Tuesday and Wednesday to decide when and by how much to scale back its asset purchases from the current pace of $85 billion a month.
* S&P 500 futures rose 17.6 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 rose 167 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 35 points.
* Of the two perceived leading candidates for the Fed chairmanship, Summers was widely regarded as more eager to taper the Fed's $85 million a month bond-buying program. Janet Yellen, the Fed's current vice chair and the other candidate seen as a leading contender, has been more widely perceived by investors as favoring a more gradual easing of stimulus.
* The gains in futures come after the Dow Jones industrial average on Friday registered its best weekly gain since January though trading was subdued ahead of the Federal Reserve's expected reduction of stimulus measures next week.
* In reaction to the withdrawal of Summers, the US dollar slipped to a near four-week low against a basket of currencies.
* Further whetting risk appetite were signs of progress in Syria following a Russian-brokered deal aimed at averting US military action.
* In economic news, the Empire State index is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (14:30 SA time), and industrial production and capacity utilization data is set for 9:15 a.m ET (15:15 SA time). - Reuters