Stock index futures rose on Wednesday, buoyed by comments from China's central bank chief that the country would keep investing in euro zone debt and better-than-expected data from Germany and France.
Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan reiterated previous comments from Premier Wen Jiabao that China was ready to play a bigger role in solving Europe's debt problems, and said China remains confident in the euro, lifting sentiment for stocks.
While this is good to hear, the comments are no different than what we heard from Premier Wen yesterday morning eastern time on the same issue, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
Rehashing the same positive story with a slightly different spin and believing its new positive news is common when the path of least resistance is higher in markets, he said.
The cancellation of Wednesday's meeting of euro zone finance ministers unnerved some investors worried about a disruption to a Greek bailout deal, but a Greek conservative party leader was expected to sign a commitment to the strict austerity measures.
Financial stocks will be in focus after European bank shares rallied, boosted by BNP Paribas'
Germany's gross domestic product contracted 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, topping forecasts, data showed, while France's economy grew more than expected as corporate investment picked up and domestic consumption remain solid.
S&P 500 futures were up 4.6 points and 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 rose 30 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 9.25 points.
In U.S. economic data, the New York Federal Reserve releases its Empire State manufacturing survey for February at 8:30 a.m. EST. Economists expect a reading of 15.00, compared with 13.48 in January.
The Federal Reserve releases January industrial production and capacity utilization data at 9:15 a.m. EST (1415 GMT). Economists expect a 0.7 percent rise in production and a reading of 78.6 percent for capacity utilization. In December, production rose 0.4 percent and capacity utilization was 78.1 percent.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo February housing market index is due at 10 a.m. EST. Economists look for a reading of 26 versus 25 in January.
A Goldman Sachs
Talks between Yahoo Inc
Wall Street ended little changed on Tuesday.
(Reporting By Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)