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US stocks seen higher ahead of Fed Chair Yellen's speech

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Monday, ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

Yellen is scheduled to speak in Chicago at 9:55 am ET with investors monitoring for comments on interest rates. During Yellen's first news conference following the FOMC rate decision, equities were hard hit after the new Fed Chair raised the possibility of an earlier-than-anticipated increase in rates.

"While the Fed's updated forward policy guidance is no longer centered on the unemployment rate, the monthly employment report on Friday will inevitably be closely watched for any improvement at the end of the first quarter," said Daiwa Capital Markets' Chris Scicluna in a morning research note.

Futures were also buoyed amid hopes of stimulus in both the euro zone and China.

Chinese state media reported that the Beijing was preparing measures to bolster the economy. However, gains to Chinese shares were pared by caution ahead of the publication of official manufacturing data on Tuesday. Still, Asian shares ended Monday's session mostly higher.

Meanwhile, European shares were lifted amid hopes the European Central Bank will announce stimulus measures when it meets later this week.

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Lululemon bounced after Wedbush upgraded the stock to "outperform" from "neutral," saying bad news is already priced into the yoga apparel maker's stock and that it foresees a rebound in investor sentiment.

Tesla edged higher after the electric car maker reached an agreement with New York State on how it may sell cars. Tesla will be allowed to keep its five currently licensed retail locations, but additional locations will need to follow state dealer franchise laws.

General Motors slipped a day ahead of its chief executive officer Mary Barra's testimony to Congress about the company's vehicle recalls. On Friday, GM expanded its recall to 2.6 million vehicles, adding 917,000 more units.

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On the economic front, Chicago PMI data for March is due at 9:45 am ET. Expectations are for a reading of 59 versus the prior 59.8. And the Dallas Federal Reserve manufacturing survey at 10:30 a.m.

No major earnings are expected. The big release of this week will be the government employment report at the end of the week, with the March number expected to be better than February's 175,000 new jobs.

Ukraine will likely remain in focus this week. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov for four hours on Sunday. The meeting concluded with both sides agreeing that they would continue to hold "constructive" talks to de-escalate the crisis.

Coming Up This Week:

MONDAY: Chicago PMI, Fed's Yellen speaks, Dallas Fed mfg survey, Apple vs. Samsung
TUESDAY: PMI mfg index, ISM mfg index, construction spending, auto sales, GM's Barra on Capitol Hill; Earnings from Apollo Group
WEDNESDAY: Mortgage applications, ADP employment report, factory orders, oil inventories, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed's Bullard speaks, Amazon event, Nokia event; Earnings from Monsanto
THURSDAY: Challenger job-cut report, international trade, jobless claims, PMI services index, ISM non-mfg index, natural gas inventories, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Google Class C shares expected; Earnings from Global Payments, Micron
FRIDAY: Nonfarm payrolls, GM 'Emergency Motion' hearing; Earnings from CarMax

--By CNBC.com

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