U.S. Stock Futures Higher; Fed Speakers, Trade Data Ahead

Stock futures pointed to gains for Wall Street on Tuesday at the opening, with higher overseas markets boosting sentiment. Trade data looms, and while that may not give much direction to investors, a couple of Federal Reserve speakers will draw attention.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 65 points to 16430, while those for the S&P 500 index added 7.4 points to 1827.80. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index gained 16.25 points to 3534.

November trade deficit data is due at 8:30 a.m. EST, while Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren will give a speech on the economic outlook to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association in Hartford, Conn., at the same time. San Francisco Fed President John Williams will give a talk on the economy and monetary policy in Phoenix, Ariz., at 2:10 p.m. EST.

The Senate on Monday approved Janet Yellen to be the first chairwoman of the Federal Reserve in the central bank's history, in a 56-26 vote. But analysts said there wasn't much surprise here for markets, and investors were biding their time ahead of Wednesday's minutes of the Dec. 17-18 Fed meeting and Friday's monthly jobs report.

The S&P 500 index dropped for the third-straight session on Monday, after services-sector data came in weaker than expected. The Nasdaq Composite also marked its third-straight losing session. The Dow industrials also fell.

European stocks pushed higher after the annual rate of euro-zone inflation fell further below the European Central Bank's target in December, triggering some concerns that too little inflation will pose a threat to the region's economy. Analysts said it could also put pressure on the ECB to respond with stimulus measures to fend off deflation. The central bank meets Thursday.

Asia stocks mostly rose, though yen strength continued to weigh on the Nikkei 225 index. The dollar firmed some, while gold edged up and oil was also higher.

Among individual U.S. stocks in focus, shares of Palo Alto Networks Inc. (PANW) could add to Monday's after-hours gains after the network-security firm said it had bought Morta Security for an undisclosed sum.

Convergys Corp. (CVG) shares jumped 20% in late trading on Monday after the customer management firm said it will buy Stream Global Services Inc. for a total enterprise value of $820 million in cash. The company said the acquisition should add about 35 cents a share to Convergys earnings, excluding one-time costs.

Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. (NBIX) may add to a nearly 60% late-session jump after the biotech company said mid-stage study results for a treatment of a condition in which sufferers make involuntary facial movements showed statistically significant improvement.

Cynan Inc. (CYNI) could see pressure after the provider of software-defined networking and packet-optical platforms for network operators said weaker orders are forcing it to cut its fourth-quarter revenue outlook by a third. Shares fell 22% in late trading Monday.

The brutal cold gripping a huge portion of the U.S. from the Midwest to the East Coast continues to take a toll on businesses and individuals. JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) was suspending operations from Monday evening into Tuesday morning in the Boston and New York areas, so that crew members could rest and aircraft could be serviced.