Wall Street on edge as it gears up for earnings season

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat to slightly higher open on Monday as third-quarter earnings season gets underway, after minutes of last month's U.S. Federal Reserve meeting failed to illuminate the pathway ahead for U.S. monetary policy.

Many analysts say the earnings reports are critical for fourth-quarter gains in stocks and finding clarity on the severity of an economic slowdown, especially amid mixed messages from the Federal Reserve.

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Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Major earnings due on Monday included Infosys. India's second-largest software services exporter trimmed its full-year dollar revenue forecast to account for a stronger U.S. dollar against the rupee, Reuters reported.

JPMorgan Chase is scheduled to report after the close Tuesday,beginning a heavy week of earnings reports from financials, which includes Bank of America and Wells Fargo on Wednesday, and Citigroup and Goldman Sachs on Thursday.

Earnings estimates for the sector are down to growth of 3.0 percent versus expectations of 6.1 percent growth two weeks ago, according to S&P Capital IQ.

No major economic reports are expected Monday.

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Wall Street will also have plenty of economic data and comments from Federal Reserve policymakers to digest as the timing of a rate hike remains uncertain.

The Fed's September meeting minutes released this past Thursday indicated policymakers were further from raising rates last month than many thought, as FOMC members were concerned about reaching their inflation target and the impact of a global economic slowdown. Fed speakers have generally maintained the central bank could still raise rates this year.

Over the weekend, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers are still likely to raise interest rates this year but that is "an expectation, not a commitment," and could change if the global economy pushes the U.S. economy further off course.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans is scheduled to speak again Monday, as is Fed board member Lael Brainard. On Tuesday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is due to present remarks, while the New York Fed's William Dudley speaks Thursday.

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In Europe, equities traded mixed Monday, bucking the positive trend set in Asia as investors tread cautiously after a strong week of gains.

U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, wrapping up a solid week of gains, as investors digested indications from the Fed on the timing of a rate hike ahead of earnings season.

The S&P 500 closed up 3.26 percent for the week, its best since the week ended Dec. 19, 2014. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 3.7 percent for the week, its second-best week of the year so far.

Reuters and CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated when ISM non-manufacturing report was due. It came out last week.