U.S. stock futures rose early Monday, as investors welcomed strong durable goods orders and better-than-expected earnings from manufacturing giant Caterpillar.
The Census Bureau said durable goods orders rose 4.6% in December. Analysts were looking orders to rise just 1.6% last month, following a 0.7% uptick in November.
Caterpillar's fourth-quarter earnings topped analyst expectations, sending shares of the company up more than 1% in premarket trading. As the biggest seller of construction equipment in the world, with major operations in China, Caterpillar ( is considered a bellwether for the global economy. )
Yahoo ( earnings are up after the bell. The company's fourth-quarter results are a big test for )CEO Marissa Mayer, who shocked the world last summer by taking the top spot at Yahoo. The results will be a look into Yahoo's new business strategy -- the results of which Mayer began laying out in an all-staff meeting in September.
Of the 141 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 67% have reported results above analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. Overall, fourth-quarter earnings are expected to grow 2.8% from a year ago.
Also on the corporate front, shares of Apple ( will be in focus Monday, with shares edging slightly higher in premarket treading. The iPhone and iPad maker's stock is down almost 20% this year. On Friday, )Apple lost its title as the world's most valuable company to Exxon ( as shares closed at a 1-year low. )
Following the opening bell, the National Association of Realtors will release pending home sales for December.
U.S. stocks have had quite a run in 2013, with four straight weeks of gains so far this year. The Dow finished Friday at its highest level since October 2007, while the S&P 500 closed above the 1,500 mark for the first time since December 2007. The Dow is now just 2% away from its all-time high, and the S&P 500 is off about 5% from its record high.
European markets were slightly higher in morning trading Monday, while Asian markets ended finished mixed. The Shanghai Composite added more than 2%, closing at its highest level since June, while the Nikkei tumbled nearly 1%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged slightly higher.