Stock Futures Point to a Higher Open on Wall Street

Wall Street was set to open higher Tuesday after a long holiday weekend, as stock futures rose in the wake of a move by the People's Bank of China to buffer liquidity for big banks. A number of companies are also due to report, including Johnson & Johnson and Verizon Communications Inc.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 47 points, or 0.3%, to 16444, while those for the S&P 500 added 4.2 points to 1838.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index jumped 14.75 points, or 0.4%, to 3599.50.

There is no data on the calendar for Tuesday, but a column by The Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath, saying the Federal Reserve is on track to trim its bond-buying program at its Jan. 28-29 meeting, could attract some attention.

Analysts said futures got a lift after the People's Bank of China said it provided emergency funding support for commercial banks as they gear up to meet demands for cash ahead of the Lunar New Year. The news lifted Hong Kong stocks as well as European stocks.

"This has reassured both the Chinese market and equity markets generally. However, with debt rising rapidly, it is no surprise that investors are increasingly worried that the Chinese economy is not as robust as originally forecast and will not deliver the level of growth required," commented Rebecca O'Keeffe, head of investment at stockbroker Interactive Investor, in a note.

While U.S. traders were out Monday, data was released showing weak growth in Chinese industrial output. Other data showed China GDP up rose 7.7% in the October-December quarter from a year ago, which was below the 7.8% recorded in the prior quarter, but still slightly better than economists expected.

U.S. markets were closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr Day. Stocks closed mostly lower Friday after downbeat results from Intel Corp. and General Electric Co. But technology stocks were a stand-out last week, with stock futures showing the sector may continue to get a bid on Tuesday.

Earnings may fill the data void. Ahead of the bell, blue chip Johnson & Johnson is forecast to report earnings of $1.20 a share in the fourth quarter, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Another Dow component, Verizon is seen reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 62 cents a share.

After the closing bell, International Business Machines Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc. are due to report. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Lenovo Group Ltd. is in talks to buy IBM's low-end server business, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Shares of Apple Inc. could be in focus after analysts at Societe Generale cut their rating on the company to hold from buy, citing worries about iPhone sales and a cheaper mix that involves the iPhone 5C.

Within other markets, oil prices edged up and gold drifted lower, while the dollar traded mostly higher.