Stocks got a bump from better-than-expected reports on GDP and jobless claims even though the GDP reading indicated that the economy is likely in a recession.
The economy contracted at a 0.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, less than the 0.5-percent decline expected, according to the first of three readings on GDP for the quarter. It was the weakest growth since 2001.
Investors will be looking at data on third-quarter gross domestic product, which is forecast to have fallen at an annual rate of 0.5 percent, compared with a rise of 2.8 percent in the second quarter.
Initial jobless claims held steady at 479,000 last week; economists had expected the gauge to drop to 475,000.
In corporate news, Exxon is due to report results before the bell and analysts surveyed by ThomsonReuters expect it to post earnings per share of $2.38 in the third quarter. Shares were nearly 2 percent higher in premarket trading ahead of the earnings release.
The big rise in futures comes a day after the Federal Reserve slashed the fed funds rate by half a percentage point as it seeks to revive an economy hit by a long list of maladies stemming from the most severe financial crisis in decades.
A $600 billion plan is being hammered out by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and the U.S. Treasury that could provide guarantees for up to 3 million at-risk mortgages, offering much-needed relief to homeowners, according to Reuters.
And New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is demanding information about executive compensation and bonuses at nine banks that have received federal funds under the Treasury's bailout program.
In a letter to each bank's Board of Directors, Cuomo warns the bonuses could violate New York's state fraudulent conveyance law.
Asian stocks surged, with Japan leaping by 10 percent, while in Europe shares were also higher as risk appetite tiptoed back into markets.
Taiwan, Hong Kong and a number of Gulf countries followed suit.