Stock index futures pointed to a mostly higher open on Wednesday after positive comments on the economy from President Barack Obama, as investors looked to upcoming data for signs of improvement.

Comments from Obama Tuesday night helped the positive tone after he said he was seeing some progress in efforts to pull the economy out of crisis.

Among data scheduled, new orders for U.S.-made durable goods are expected to have fallen in February, but by less than in January, on a decline in civilian aircraft orders. Data on new home sales for February could provide additional support after recent signs of stabilization in the housing market.

The rhetoric out of Washington has improved, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.

(Obama) is now a cheerleader in terms of the economy improving. That should help increase investor confidence and, above all, consumer confidence as we go along.

S&P 500 futures rose 1.10 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 climbed 10 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures fell 1.25 points.

Adding to optimism, data showed U.S. mortgage applications jumped last week as record low interest rates spurred a surge in demand for home refinancing loans.

Stocks have rallied in recent weeks, including a big run-up on Monday, as policy makers unveiled moves aimed at shoring up the economy and some major banks said they were profitable in the early part of the year.

Taking everything into consideration, the market seems to want to extend the rally that began on Monday, said Cardillo, though he said gains could be dampened by profit taking, as was seen in the previous session.

On Tuesday, stocks fell as investors paused to reassess the likely success of the government's latest plans to clean up bank balance sheets and revive the ailing financial system.

Shares of banks rose before the opening bell, with Bank of America up 2.9 percent at $7.43 and JPMorgan adding 1.1 percent to $26.70.

Obama will meet with about a dozen top bank chief executives on Friday, including executives from JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup , sources familiar with the matter said.

The energy sector could weigh on trading, however, as the price of oil slipped, affecting shares in that sector, with New York front-month crude trading down 2.4 percent at $52.67 a barrel.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)