Futures Follow European Markets Higher

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U.S. stock-index futures kicked off the week solidly higher on the back of a rally in European markets sparked by upbeat news from Italy and the G-20 summit.

Today's Markets

As of 7:50 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 34 points to 14503, S&P 500 futures gained 4.8 points to 1552 and Nadaq 100 futures rose 14.3 points to 2783.

The markets took their biggest fall of the year last week, with the broad S&P 500 shedding 2.1%. However, a jolt of positive political news helped boost sentiment across world trading desks on Monday.

Over the weekend, Italy re-elected Giorgio Napolitano as president after parliament there failed to choose a head of state five times. The move sent Italy's benchmark stock-market index, the FTSE MIB, surging some 2%. Analysts generally saw the election as a positive, although still noted the downside risks Europe's third-biggest economy faces.

"The start of [Napolitano's] unprecedented second-term is being met with mixed feelings, with markets appearing satisfied by the resolution and the implied stability of Mr. Napolitano’s steady hands on the reins," analysts at Nomura wrote to clients Monday.

Separately, the Group of 20 finance and central bank chiefs that met at the end of last week came out supportive of Japan's aggressive new monetary policy measures that have shoved the yen sharply lower and sent markets there skyrocketing. The G-20 also came out in support of fiscal measures taken recently in the U.S. via the sequester.

Earnings season also revs up this week.

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) posted first-quarter profits of  $1.31 a share, shy of estimates of $1.40. The heavy-machinery giant said its revenues came in at $13.21 billion for the quarter, also missing expectations of $13.7 billion. The company also said it expects its full-year profits to come in at $7 a share, down from a previous forecast of $7 to $9 a share.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) report after the bell. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), the world's biggest technology company, unveils its quarterly results on Tuesday.

On the economic front, traders will get a fresh reading on the housing market at 10:00 a.m. ET. Economists expect sales of existing, single-family homes to have fallen slightly to an annual rate of 5.01 million units in March from 5.02 the month prior. The housing market has been showing signs of improvement in recent months, but the the recovery has been a choppy one.

In commodities, gold prices rallied $39.60, or 2.7%, to $1,435 a troy ounce. Oil edged up 48 cents, or 0.55%, to $88.49 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline advanced 0.82% to $2.795 a gallon.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 jumped 0.92% to 2599, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.63% to 6326 and the German DAX advanced 0.88% to 7525.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.9% to 13568 and the Chinese Hang Seng ticked up 0.14% to 22044.