U.S. stock futures pointed to a steady open on Tuesday, as global financial centers returned from the long Easter weekend and markets eyed the release of U.S. home sales data later in the day sas well as a string of earnings reports.
Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.06% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.06% uptick, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.29% rise.
U.S. equities had found support last week after upbeat data on manufacturing and employment pointed to underlying strength in the economy.
The Labor Department reported the number of people filing for unemployment benefits edged up to 304,000, below analysts’ forecasts and not far from the six-and-a-half year low of 300,000 touched the previous week.
The pharmaceutical sector was expected to be active, amid reports Allergan (NYSE:AGN), the maker of the Botox wrinkle treatment, is being targeted for a takeover by Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:VRX) with Pershing Square Capital Management LP after rebuffing merger efforts for more than a year.
Boosted by the news, Allergan shares soared 20.63% in after-hour trade.
Separately, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), up 0.29% pre-market, was expected to come back to bid for British drug company Astrazeneca (AZN.LSE), after its £60 billion takeover approach was rejected.
In the financial sector, Citigroup (NYSE:C) shares ticked up 0.08% in extended trade after the U.S. lender said it is seeking bidders for about 50 branches holding $3 billion in California.
Internet-related companies were also likely to be in focus, as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) said it plans to charge new customers $1 to $2 a month more for its online video service, starting later this quarter. The announcement came a day after the company reported first-quarter profit and subscriber growth that beat analysts' estimates.
Netflix shares surged 7.32% in early trading.
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) gained 0.64% pre-market, despite a report by Ohio State University researchers showing that sales declined in states that are collecting an online sales tax.
Other stocks likely to be in focus included Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), AT&T (NYSE:T), Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR), Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM), Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) and Bank Of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK), all scheduled to report quarterly results later in the day.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.59%, France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.65%, Germany's DAX jumped 1.05%, while Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.90%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.13%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.85%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release private sector data on existing home sales.