- U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open on Tuesday, as Monday''s strong U.S. home sales data continued to fuel optimism over the strength of the U.S. economic recovery and as markets turned to the Federal Reserve''s upcoming policy meeting.

Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.28% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.33% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.50% climb.

On Monday, data showed that U.S. pending home sales rose for the first time in nine months in March, indicating that the housing market is picking up.

The National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales jumped 3.4% last month, easily surpassing expectations for a 1% gain. Pending home sales for February were revised to a 0.5% drop from a previously reported decline of 0.8%.

The telecom sector was slated to be in focus, after mobile-phone carrier AT&T (NYSE:T) said it is preparing to introduce 4G LTE wireless Internet access to commercial flights. Shares were steady, up 0.06%, in after-hour trade.

Internet-related stocks were aslo expected to be active, following news LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) Chief Executive Officer Jeff Weiner’s total compensation rose more than 40-fold to $49.1 million last year.

The news came after the stock dropped over 6% on Monday, amid reports investors are questioning whether Web companies can keep up revenue expansion, as some show signs of slowing gains in the number of users.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical sector was likely to remain in the spotlight, as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) was said to be considering reducing its tax bill by moving its legal address outside the U.S. The drugmaker had made headlines last week after confirming its willingness to acquire London-based Astrazeneca (AZN.LONDON) for about £58.8 billion.

Separately, Herbalife (NYSE:HLF), down 0.70% in extended trade, posted higher-than-estimated earnings and increased its forecast late Monday.

Other stocks likely to be in focus included Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), Dreamworks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA), Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX) and 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), scheduled to report quarterly results later in the day.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.54%, France’s CAC 40 inched up 0.04%, Germany''s DAX climbed 0.63%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 advanced 0.54%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng jumped 1.45%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 remained closed for a national holiday.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish a report compiled by the Conference Board on consumer confidence.

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