Stock futures signal gains ahead of Alcoa

(BestGrowthStock) – Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Monday, helped in part by easing worries over sovereign debt after euro zone finance ministers approved a massive aid plan for debt-stricken Greece.

By 3:25 a.m. ET, futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.18 percent, Dow Jones futures were up 0.31 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.21 percent.

All eyes will be on aluminum major and Dow component Alcoa (AA.N: ), due to kick off the first-quarter reporting season on Monday.

Euro zone finance ministers approved a 30 billion euro ($40 billion) emergency aid plan for Greece on Sunday, but stressed Athens had not requested the plan be activated yet.

UBS (UBSN.VX: ) said its first-quarter pre-tax profit would be at least 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.33 billion) and said client withdrawals had slowed at all its business divisions.

Mining shares will be in the spotlight after copper reached a 20-month high as the dollar lost ground, and as hopes of a bidding war for Australian miner Macarthur Coal (MCC.AX: ) boosted the company’s shares by 10 percent, with talk that Xstrata (XTA.L: ) may jump in the brawl.

Also on the M&A front, Mirant Corp (MIR.N: ) agreed to take over rival RRI Energy (RRI.N: ), creating one of the largest U.S. independent power producers and cutting costs as they deal with weak electricity prices that have challenged the entire industry.

The dollar fell on Monday against the euro, which leapt to its highest in nearly a month on Monday, surging 1 percent on the dollar and yen as investors who had sold it scrambled to buy it back after euro zone finance ministers agreed a rescue package for Greece.

Oil prices rose above $85 a barrel on Monday, buoyed by a drop in the U.S. dollar and bullish data that showed Chinese crude imports jumping to their second-highest monthly level in March.

European stocks were up 0.2 percent in morning trade, led by banks such as BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: ) and Banco Santander (SAN.MC: ), as fears over Greece’s debt problems eased following the EU rescue package (.EU: ), while Japan’s Nikkei average gained 0.4 percent, with ad agency Dentsu (4324.T: ) surging on improved earnings guidance.

Stocks rose on Friday with the Dow surpassing 11,000 for the first time in a year-and-a-half after Chevron’s upbeat outlook and wholesale inventories data reinforced bets on an improving economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) gained 70.28 points, or 0.64 percent, to end at 10,997.35. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) rose 7.93 points, or 0.67 percent, to 1,194.37. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) added 17.24 points, or 0.71 percent, to 2,454.05.

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(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

Stock futures signal gains ahead of Alcoa