By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock futures were higher on Monday after data showed Japan's economy gained momentum, while last week's employment report eased investor jitters that the Federal Reserve could slow the pace of its stimulus efforts in the very near-term.
Japan's economy grew at a much quicker pace in the first quarter than had been previously estimated, an encouraging sign for that government's aggressive plan to boost growth. Japan's Nikkei jumped 4.9 percent after the data.
Indeed, the OECD said on Monday that major economies are gradually gaining momentum, led by faster growth in Japan and the United States.
But other data over the weekend pointed to risks that China's economic growth will fall further in the second quarter. Export growth in May was weak for the world's second-largest economy, while imports fell.
Among U.S. companies, McDonald's Corp said sales at its established restaurants around the world rose in May, sending its shares up 2.1 percent in premarket trade.
With an absence of domestic economic news on Monday, investors are likely to continue to digest last Friday's U.S. job market report, which showed the economy added 175,000 jobs in May. Markets have been bumpy in recent weeks as investors have tried to determine when the Fed may slow its $85 billion a month bond-buying program.
Comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last month had raised concerns the central bank could begin to pull back sooner than had been expected. But while May's job creation showed the labor market was still improving, the gains weren't big enough to make investors think the Fed will cool its quantitative easing in the near future.
"It wasn't too hot, it wasn't too cold," Rockwell Global Capital's chief market economist Peter Cardillo said of the employment report.
"Due to global economic weakness, and modest growth here in the States, the Fed rhetoric will likely tone down, and I think the markets will be convinced there will be no trimming of QE, at least not until toward the end of the year."
"That should reenergize the bulls," he said.
S&P 500 futures rose 6.2 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 46 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 10.75 points.
Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage at the company's annual developers' conference once more, this time to reveal what is expected to be a more modern-looking mobile operating system.
AstraZeneca is to buy U.S. respiratory drug specialist Pearl Therapeutics for up to $1.15 billion as Britain's second biggest drugmaker steps up a drive to rebuild its product pipeline via deal-making.
Decades-old laws barring foreign ownership of farmland in Iowa, Missouri and at least three other Midwest states may complicate the planned purchase by China's Shuanghui International of U.S. pork company Smithfield Foods for $4.7 billion.
Irish drug firm Elan Corp , as expected, rejected an increased offer from Royalty Pharma and said it was assessing enquiries from other interested parties. Its shares edged up 0.8 percent in U.S. premarket action.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)