Stock index futures bounced on Thursday, a day after Wall Street wiped out much of its gains for the year, but news on Japan's nuclear crisis was set to drive trading in another volatile day for markets.
Global stocks stabilized after Wall Street's rout the previous day. Japan's Nikkei <.N225> ended down 1.4 percent, but eased off lows as foreign buyers bought beaten-down stocks, while European equities <.FTEU3> rose nearly 1 percent.
In a sell-off Wednesday on the highest volume this year, the S&P 500 <.SPX> and Nasdaq <.IXIC> turned negative for the year, while the Dow posted its worst daily decline since August as conflicting news on Japan panicked investors.
Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York, said equities markets would seesaw until there was greater clarity on the nuclear crisis.
Traders will just be glued to the news in Japan, and I think we'll see moves in the market based on that, he said.
S&P 500 futures rose 11.7 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 rose 82 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures put on 15.75 points.
Brent crude rose 2.2 percent to $113 as tensions in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain fueled fears of further supply disruptions while investors weighed the impact on energy demand from Japan, hit by an earthquake and tsunami.
Japanese military helicopters dumped water on an overheating nuclear plant, while the United States expressed alarm about leaking radiation and sent aircraft to help Americans leave the country.
The Group of Seven ministers hold talks later Thursday to discuss the economic and financial impact of Japan's crisis, though they were likely to dismiss the need for action to curb the soaring yen.
Economic bellwether FedEx Corp reported quarterly earnings early Thursday.
Economic data due later includes U.S. consumer inflation, weekly jobless claims and Midwest manufacturing. Investors see the reports as secondary as the do not yet reflect the impact of Japan's disaster on the global economy.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)