By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures inched higher Tuesday, with markets retaining a recent rally on hopes jobs data later this week will feed into a growing view of an improving economy.
S&P 500 futures rose 2.8 points to 1,171.60 and Nasdaq 100 futures added 6 points to 1,966.20. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 19 points.TODAY'S INTERNATIONAL MARKET STORIES
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U.S. stocks and commodities gained on Monday after a report of rising consumer spending, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were each up between 0.4% and 0.6%.
Tuesday's economic calendar features the S&P/Case-Shiller on house prices in January and the Conference Board's gauge of consumer confidence in March, as markets position ahead of Friday's report on nonfarm payrolls.
Apple /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 232.39, +1.49, +0.65%) , AT&T /quotes/comstock/13*!t/quotes/nls/t (T 26.51, +0.27, +1.03%) and Verizon Communications /quotes/comstock/13*!vz/quotes/nls/vz (VZ 30.45, +0.08, +0.26%) will be in the spotlight after The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is designing new iPhones, including a version that could work on Verizon's network.
Jonathan Schildkraut, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., said an introduction of a CDMA iPhone by Verizon would be a "meaningful catalyst" but said it would be better for Verizon were Android-based devices to gain traction, since iPhone subsidies are the highest in the industry and Apple doesn't share revenue from applications.
In premarket trade, Apple rose 2.2% and Verizon rose 2.9% while AT&T fell 1.7%.
Miners will be in the spotlight as Vale /quotes/comstock/13*!vale/quotes/nls/vale (VALE 32.00, +1.21, +3.93%) said Japanese steelmakers will pay 90% more for iron ore as the companies move to quarterly rather than annual prices.
LDK Solar /quotes/comstock/13*!ldk/quotes/nls/ldk (LDK 7.05, +0.04, +0.57%) fell over 4% after its quarterly loss was worse than analyst estimates.
Irish banks saw dramatic declines for a second day, with Allied Irish Banks /quotes/comstock/13*!aib/quotes/nls/aib (AIB 3.58, -0.87, -19.55%) losing a quarter of its value ahead of the Irish government's announcement on the stake they will take and the haircut they will demand for accepting risky loans.
Most Asian markets advanced, with the Nikkei 225 up 1% in Tokyo, while stocks in Europe made modest advances, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.3%.
Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.