Stock index futures signal early gains

Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.12 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.15 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.4 percent at 3.43 a.m. EST.

European stocks rose in morning trade, with resource-related shares buoyed by improving manufacturing data from China.

The final reading of HSBC's China manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Survey (PMI) rose to 50.5 in November from 49.5 in the previous month, the first time since October 2011 that it has topped the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

HSBC's data followed a similar survey from the National Bureau of Statistics released on Saturday that showed the pace of growth in the manufacturing sector quickening. The official PMI rose to a seven-month high of 50.6 for November from 50.2 in October.

With barely a month left before they reach the "fiscal cliff" Republicans and Democrats remained far apart on Friday in talks to avoid the across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts that threaten to throw the country back into recession.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pushed Republicans on Sunday to offer specific ideas to cut the deficit, and predicted that they would agree to raise tax rates on the rich to obtain a year-end deal and avoid possible economic doom.

Three top Federal Reserve officials offered sharply different takes on Saturday on the U.S. central bank's unprecedented efforts to push down long-term borrowing costs, highlighting what may be some key themes at the Fed's upcoming policy-setting meeting.

Singapore Airlines said on Monday it was in talks with interested parties to sell its 49 percent stake in British carrier Virgin Atlantic, with sources revealing that Delta Air Lines Inc was among potential suitors.

Boeing Co and the union that represents its 23,000 engineers tentatively agreed to resume labor talks on Tuesday, after their negotiations on a new contract ended abruptly on Thursday.

News Corp is expected to name Robert Thomson, a close confidant of Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, to lead its new publishing company by the end of next week, according to sources familiar with News Corp's plans.

Bank of America Corp , the second largest U.S. bank, is holding off on plans for new checking-account fees that could have affected some 10 million customers by year's end, avoiding a possible repeat of last year's protests over consumer banking fees, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

U.S. gravel producer Martin Marietta Materials Inc will look to make a friendly offer to buy rival Vulcan Materials Co , rather than attempt another hostile takeover, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people close to the decision.

The S&P 500 wrapped up its fifth positive month in the last six on Friday, although it ended the day flat as politicians remain at odds about how to avoid the cliff.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 3.76 points, or 0.03 percent, to 13,025.58 at the close. The S&P 500 gained a mere 0.23 of a point, or 0.02 percent, to finish at 1,416.18. But the Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 1.79 points, or 0.06 percent, to end at 3,010.24.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by John Stonestreet)