US Markets

Wall Street awaits Fed speakers for taper hints; Sysco surges on deal news

U.S. stock-index futures were mildly higher on Monday, with risk sentiment getting a second wind from strong China data after Friday's U.S. jobs number.

Sysco on Monday said it would competitor US Foods to form a food-distribution company with about $65 billion in annual revenue. Its shares rallied 32 percent in early New York trading.

News that Chinese annual inflation slowed to 3 percent in November from 3.2 percent saw the benchmark Shanghai Composite rise above 2,240 points to trade near a three-month high.

(Read more: Track Asian markets live with CNBC)

This followed data on Sunday that showed China had its biggest trade surplus in almost five years last month, with robust export growth far exceeding import growth.

Investors now await another raft of Chinese data on Tuesday, including November industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment.

(Read more: Forget a slowdown, China's economy set to accelerate)

Shares in both Asia and Europe remained boosted by Friday's non-farm payrolls report, which showed that 203,000 jobs were created in the U.S. in November, many more than expected. The jobless rate fell to a five-year low, and other data showed consumer confidence hit a five-month high.

"In the U.S., several data releases, including the labor market report and manufacturing ISM, last week surprised on the upside to leave the door still slightly ajar to an agreement at next week's FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting to start to taper," said Chris Scicluna of Daiwa Capital Markets in a morning research note.

Nonetheless, he still expected tapering to wait until the New Year, due to likely weak fourth-quarter growth, low inflation, the patchiness of the improvement in the labor market, and continued fiscal policy uncertainty.

Wall Street was also tracking budget negotiations in Washington, with negotiators close to an agreement on cutting automatic spending reductions and halt a three-year period of unsuccessful fiscal discussions. Lawmakers face a Friday deadline to reach a deal to help curtail $100 billion to $200 billion in automatic reductions for a year or so.

Several Federal Reserve officials are due to speak on Monday, before the Fed goes into its "blackout" period ahead of next week's policy meeting. These include Jeffrey Lacker, James Bullard and Richard Fisher.

The day will be a quiet one for economic data, with reports out including the employment index for November at 10 a.m. ET and the Fed's flow-of-funds report for the third quarter.

Earnings-wise, the sole company of note posting quarterly results before Wall Street opens is American clothing company PVH. The consensus EPS (earnings per share) forecast is $2.26, down on last year's $2.34.

Elsewhere, the benchmark Nikkei ended at its highest level in nearly a week, as the weaker yen offset disappointing economic reports.

Japanese third-quarter growth was revised down to an annualized 1.1 percent gain, well below preliminary estimates of 1.9 percent. Japan's current account balance unexpectedly swung to a deficit in October.

(Read more: Why this week is a good one for the dollar-yen)

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato