U.S. stock futures gained Tuesday ahead of Ben Bernanke's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, where the Federal Reserve Chairman is expected to remain cautious about the outlook for the US economy in the face of rising oil prices.
Investors will listen out for any new insights into the Fed's quantitative easing program, which three Fed officials questioned in the past several days. Bernanke’s appearance is scheduled for 10 a.m.
Investors will also scrutinize any comments on inflation. Previously, Bernanke has said deflation is now less of a risk, but unlike other central bankers around the world he saw no inflation threat for the US.
Figures released in Europe Tuesday morning showed inflation was on the rise in the 17 countries that share the euro. Euro zone inflation rose to 2.4 percent in February, its highest level since October 2008.
After pausing Monday, oil prices rose Tuesday on rumors that Saudi Arabia had sent tanks to Bahrain to quell unrest. But an official from Saudia Arabia denied the report, which had surfaced in an Egyptian newspaper, according to Reuters.
London Brent traded above $112 a barrel, while U.S. light sweet crude was at nearly $98.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will address the House Financial Services Committee, also at 10 a.m.
Geithner was expected to say Congress should pass legislation overhauling the U.S. housing finance system within two years, though it should not act in haste, as this would be counterproductive.
Investors will also digest the February Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index and January construction spending figures.