Stock futures were set to open about 1 percent higher on Wednesday as investors were hopeful a reading on gross domestic product would fuel more optimism that the recession is subsiding.

Investors are also awaiting comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve for a look at the central's bank's take on the state of the economy.

The release of advance first-quarter GDP data may indicate the slowdown was less brutal than initially thought. The economy is expected to have shrunk at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.9 percent in the first quarter, after contracting 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The GDP number is a perfect example of what we're looking at, said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst, Jefferies & Co in Boston. The economic data is getting worse at a slower rate, and I think that's the beginning of a recovery.

But worries over the threat to the economy of a global outbreak of swine flu could weigh after a government official confirmed the first U.S. death from the new flu strain -- a 23-month-old child in Texas.

The Fed will make a statement in the afternoon at the end of its two-day policy meeting, and economists expect it to hold its target range for its benchmark funds rate steady at near zero, as it has since December.

In addition to aggressively slashing interest rates, the Fed has launched a $1.15 trillion program to purchase mortgage debt and long-dated Treasury securities.

Shares of Time Warner Inc rose 6.3 percent to $23.14 after the media group posted flat first-quarter profit, weighed by a drop in advertising sales.

S&P 500 futures rose 9 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 73 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 10.50 points.

U.S. markets may get a boost from positive earnings in Europe after Germany's Siemens AG reported strong numbers and Spain's Banco Santander SA beat forecasts. The results sent European shares higher.

Bank of America Corp holds its annual shareholder meeting in North Carolina amid media reports it may have to raise more capital.

Shareholders are to vote on whether Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis should stay on the board, or at least give up his job as chairman.

The Wall Street Journal reported Lewis may be forced to relinquish the chairman job but is set to win re-election to the bank's board by a wide margin.

Shares in E*Trade Financial Corp slid 26.8 percent at $1.80 in early electronic trading, a day after the retail brokerage said it is facing regulatory pressure to boost capital as it posted its seventh straight quarterly loss.

Aetna Inc was down 5.8 percent at $22.98 after the health insurer reported a slight rise in first-quarter net income amid higher-than-projected medical costs in its commercial business.

Stocks fell Tuesday as fresh worries that major banks may need to raise more money offset reassuring economic data and a big dividend boost from IBM .

The Dow is up 22.5 percent from its 12-year closing low on March 9. For the month of April alone, the Dow is up 5.4 percent. But it remains down 8.7 percent for the year.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)