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Futures Edge Higher on 'Fiscal Cliff' Optimism

U.S. futures were slightly higher Monday as investors were encouraged by new developments over the "fiscal cliff" negotiations over the weekend.

After meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House last Thursday, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner offered to accept a tax rate increase on Friday for America's richest, viewed as a key Republican road block to striking a deal. However, Obama is yet to accept the offer. (Read More: Boehner Blinks, White House Rejects Offer)

Ongoing "fiscal cliff" discussions have kept investors cautious over the last few weeks, as Democrats and Republicans attempt to thrash out a deal to resolve the looming economic difficulties.

On the economic front, a gauge of manufacturing in the New York state fell to minus 8.1 in December, for the fifth-straight month, according to the New York Federal Reserve. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of minus 1.0.

Apple will be in focus after the tech giant tumbled nearly 4 percent last week to trade near $500 a share. Most recently, Citi downgraded its rating on the company to "neutral" from "buy." Meanwhile, BMO cut its price target on the company to $670 from $730 and Canaccord Genuity lowered its price target to $750 from $800. The price target cuts come even as Apple announced it sold two million iPhone 5s over its launch weekend in China.

Bank of America and Citigroup gained after Raymond James raises its price target on the bank to $14 from $12 and to $52 from $44, respectively.

AIG gained after the insurance giant said it may raise as much as $6.5 billion from the sale of its remaining stake in AIA.

Enzon Pharmaceuticals soared after the biotech firm said it retained Lazard as its financial adviser to review the company's options including a possible sale of the company or its corporate assets.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Europe's generous welfare system risked hurting competitiveness. In an interview with the Financial Times, she reiterated her determination to see European countries commit to structural reforms.

Meanwhile, Finland's minister for European affairs, Alexander Stubb, said the euro zone may yet need to do more to bail out indebted member states. "We are always trying to end the bailout policy in all its forms," Stubb said in an interview with public broadcaster YLE on Saturday. However, he added: "If the situation calls for it, there might be countries that need help in some form."

The government is scheduled to auction $35 billion in 2-year notes with the results available shortly after 1pm ET.

—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

MONDAY: Fed's Lacker speaks, 2-yr note auction, GE annual outlook mtg
TUESDAY: Current account, housing market index, 5-yr note auction, Fed's Fisher speaks; Earnings from Oracle
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage apps, housing starts, oil inventories, 7-yr note auction; Earnings from FedEx, General Mills, Accenture, Bed Bath & Beyond
THURSDAY: GDP, jobless claims, corporate profits, existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed survey, FHFA home price index, leading indicators, Fed balance sheet/money supply, UPS busiest day; Earnings froM CarMax, ConAgra, Darden Restaurants, Discover Financial, Rite Aid, Nike, RIMM, Micron
FRIDAY: Quadruple witching, personal income & outlays, Chicago Fed activity index, consumer sentiment, BLS state employment stats; Earnings from Walgreen

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