U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open for Wall Street Tuesday as volumes dwindled in world markets ahead of Wednesday's shortened trading session and Thursday's Christmas holiday.
Asian stocks ended lower as many investors closed their books and went away for the holidays while European shares were cautiously higher in thin trading.
U.S. markets are set to end the year calmer as the CBOE Volatility index has plunged to numbers it hasn't seen since late September, shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Some value in stocks may emerge next year despite a "disaster" first half for the economy, as mining stocks, commodities and emerging markets are likely to stage a rebound, well-known bear Marc Faber, editor of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report, told CNBC.
In corporate news, IT services company Unisys said Monday after the bell that it will cut 1,300 jobs and suspend matching contributions to its U.S. 401(k) plan as it seeks cost-savings of $225 million.
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and Moody's Investors Service downgraded ratings for Chrysler and Ford Motor . S&P said that it believes "the bankruptcy risk remains high" for GM and Chrysler, as well as for Ford Motor, for next year.
Meanwhile, Alcoa said it agreed to swap a stake in a Swedish extrusion business for Orkla's interest in the Elkem Aluminum smelting business, bringing its global smelting capacity to more than 4.7 million metric tons and becoming the world's largest aluminum producer.
On the economic front, the final revision of third-quarter gross domestic product will be released at 8:30 am New York time and analysts surveyed by Briefing.com expect it to be unchanged at an annual rate of -0.5 percent.
New home sales, existing home sales and consumer sentiment data will be released shortly after the bell at 10 am.