Futures Push Higher, Following Monday Rally

U.S. stock index futures pushed higher ahead of the open Tuesday as investors waited for clues on the Federal Reserve's monetary policy from the central bank’s latest meeting minutes.

Upbeat news on manufacturing across the world encouraged investors to get the new year off to a strong start. All the major indexes closed at multi-year highs.

Investors who have been holding long positions over the holiday period will have seen the strong gains on Monday as a Christmas bonus and taken profits, Chris Lodge, senior trader at City Index, told CNBC.com.

Shares of BP jumped in UK trading on newspaper reports that rival oil major Royal Dutch Shell was considering buying the troubled firm.

A strong performance from oil-related stocks is also likely to boost the U.S. markets as the commodity remains near recent highs, Will Hedden, sales trader at ING Index, told CNBC.com.

U.S. automakers are due to report December sales results with General Motors releasing figures at 10:45 a.m. Overall sales were expected to reach 12.3 million, according to economists surveyed by Reuters.

November factory orders data will be released at 10 a.m. with economists calling for a decline of 0.1 percent, up from a 0.9 percent decline in October, according to Reuters.

The Federal Open Market Committee's meeting minutes will be out at 2 p.m.

In other news, the Pentagon faces cuts and savings of $100 billion, sources told Reuters. The U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to announce the cost-cutting measures this week.

Elsewhere in corporate news, Motorola will split into two companiestoday: Motorola Mobility, which will make cell phone and cable set-top boxes; and Motorola Solutions, which will sell police police radios and barcode scanners to government agencies and large companies.

Borders sank further after news the bookstore chain's general counsel and chief information officer resigned. The departures came in the wake of Borders' disclosure it would delay payment to vendors.

Asian indexes ended mostly higher with Japanese and Chinese stocks seeing the best of the day's gains. European stocks were higher with the FTSE-100 surging ahead of the other major indexes.

On the Calendar Next Week:

TUESDAY: Auto sales, factory orders, FOMC minutes, API weekly report; earnings from Mosaic.
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications, Challenger job-cut report, ADP employment report, ISM non-manufacturing index, oil inventories; earnings from Family Dollar. Kansas City Federal Reserve President Hoenig speaks.
THURSDAY: Chain store sales, Monster employment index, ECB announcement, jobless claims, natural gas inventories, Treasury STRIPS, money supply; earnings from Monsanto.
FRIDAY: Nonfarm payrolls report, consumer credit; Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke speaks, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen speaks.

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