Futures Rise Ahead of Manufacturing, Auto Sales Data

U.S. stock futures pushed higher Tuesday, with the start of the second half of 2014 kicking off with reports on auto sales, manufacturing activity and construction spending.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJU4) gained 41 points, or 0.2%, to 16,781 while those for the S&P 500 (SPU4) picked up 4.4 points, or 0.2%, to 1,956.80. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 (NDU4)advanced 9.3 points, or 0.2%, to 3,849.75.

Shares of General Motors Co. (GM.XX) and Ford Motor Co. (F) and other auto makers may be on the move as the industry rolls out U.S. sales figures for June throughout the trading session. Analysts expect, on average, stronger sales than the same month in 2013, keeping the industry on track for a more than 3% sales increase this year to 16.4 million cars.

GM will also be in focus after the company on Monday added about 7.6 million vehicles to safety recalls in the U.S., covering model years from 1997 to 2014.

Two separate reports on the manufacturing sector are due, with the first scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. Eastern. Data firm Markit will issue the final reading of its U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers' index for June. Its preliminary figure released last week was 57.5, up from 56.4 in May. Ahead of the U.S. reports, two separate manufacturing PMIs from China showed improvement in June, but manufacturing activity in the euro zone slowed.

At 10 a.m. Eastern Time, the Institute for Supply Management's June manufacturing report is expected to come in at 55.7% from 55.4% in May. "Overall, the ISM continues to point to an expansion in the manufacturing sector, which has been one of the better performing sectors in the U.S. economy," said Mizuho strategist Sireen Harajli in a Monday note.

A report on construction spending in May from the Commerce Department is expected at 10 a.m. Easter Time. Outlays for projects are likely to rise 0.7%, according to economists polled by MarketWatch.

Shares of Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL) could see action as the maker of Skippy peanut butter and Spam meat product agreed late Monday to buy privately-held Muscle Milk producer CytoSport Inc. for $450 million.

In other markets, Japan's Nikkei Average rose 1.1% and Europe's Stoxx 600 was higher, with BNP Paribas SA gaining after the French bank agreed to an $8.8 billion settlement with U.S. authorities in a sanction probe.

U.S. benchmark crude-oil futures (CLQ4) rose 50 cents to $105.90 and gold futures (GCQ4) climbed $4.50 to $1,326.

U.S. stocks on Monday marked gains for June and the second quarter. For the first half of 2014, the S&P 500 (SPX) rose 6.1% rise, the Dow industrials (DJI) rose 1.5%, and the Nasdaq (RIXF) gained 5.5%.