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Futures Rise as Apple Gains, AT&T Falls

U.S. stock index futures poionted to a modest gain at the open on big news in the smartphone industry and ahead of reports on housing and consumer confidence.

Apple is designing new iPhones that will work on Verizon's network, a development that would end AT&T's monopoly on smartphones. Apple shares gained nearly 2 percent in premarket trading, while AT&T fell 2.5 percent.

What many market watchers are calling "the stealth rally" or "the meltup" continued on Wall Street Monday, with another day of modest gains that pushed the Dow to its highest close since September 26, 2008.

European shares were mixed and lacked direction, but mining shares remained in demand. Asian indexes were mainly green at the close with commodity-related stocks getting a boost.

Two economic reports are on the agenda, beginning with the monthly Case-Shiller report on housing prices at 9 am New York time. At 10 am, the Conference Board issues its Consumer Confidence Index, expected to jump to a reading of 51.0 for this month from last month's 46.0.

There are no earnings releases of note scheduled, though earnings will be back on the agenda in the weeks ahead with another earnings season to kick off the week of April 12.

In compnay news, Boston Scientific's recent defibrillator recall is the subject of an informal inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wall Street Journal reported.

JC Penney was identified in court papers as another victim of computer hacker Albert Gonzalez, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week for leading the theft of more than 40 million credit card numbers.

From the auto industry: Toyota launched its promised quality control task force, while NASAjoined the effort to probe Toyota's electronic systems for any possible cause of unintended acceleration. Elsewhere, Nissan said it will sell its battery powered Leaf model at more than $40,000 in Japan, putting it well above the price of Toyota's best-selling Prius.

Looking to sovereign debt, with Fitch Ratings saying the EU's deal to aid Greece is positive, but longer term questions still remain for the country. And HSBC , one of Dubai World's largest creditors, said it welcomes a restructuring plan put forth by the state-owned conglomerate, and expects positive results from that plan.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.