Stocks index futures were little changed on Wednesday after two days of gains as investors waited to see if European officials can craft a plan to combat the region's debt crisis at a summit this week.
French and German leaders will not leave this week's EU summit until a powerful deal is reached to tackle the crisis, French officials said, and will seek to impose mandatory penalties on nations that exceed deficit targets.
On a trip to Europe, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner voiced confidence in the Franco-German plan.
European leaders will also discuss boosting the region's rescue fund, the Financial Times reported, another potential bullish signal for equities.
The debt crisis has pressured equities in recent weeks on halting progress in finding a resolution. Standard & Poor's has warned it might cut the sovereign credit rating of 15 euro zone countries, but optimism over the summit on December 9 has overshadowed the S&P threat.
Growing optimism about a European deal has helped lift the S&P almost 9 percent since a closing low reached on November 25.
More and more, people believe there's a willingness and ability to tackle the problem, and that continued shift is allowing us to cut through the old pessimism, said James Dailey, portfolio manager of TEAM Asset Strategy Fund in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
However, we'll probably keep seeing volatility until we see the plan, and if it disappoints we could drop 2 or 3 percent.
S&P 500 futures were off 2.8 points and below 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 added 17 points and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 0.5 point.
Summit hopes offset data showing China's annual rate of export growth slowed in November versus October. Investors are worried slowing growth in China will hurt the U.S. recovery.
Regional banks will be in focus a day after S&P cut credit ratings for US Bancorp
J.C. Penney Co Inc
Alpha Natural Resources Inc
U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday as investors bet European leaders would take strong steps to end the debt crisis.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)