U.S. stock index futures pointed to a modestly higher open on Wednesday after European finance ministers appeared ready to prop up struggling banks and a report on the U.S. labor market came in better than expected.
Markets executed a dramatic turnaround on Tuesday, gaining 4 percent from the day's lows to end sharply higher on reports European officials would move to safeguard banks.
After six sessions, the S&P had fallen 10 percent and investors who bet against the market were suddenly forced to cover short positions as the market shifted.
Also during the Tuesday session, the S&P dipped into bear market territory -- defined as a 20 percent decline from recent highs.
U.S. private-sector employers added 91,000 jobs in September, according to the ADP National Employment Report, topping forecasts and increasing optimism about Friday's non-farm payroll report.
The report came in with 16,000 more jobs than expectations. I'm glad to see that, but it's really Friday's report that everyone is waiting for, said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York.
European equities were further lifted on Wednesday by the reports that regional finance ministers expressed a new sense of urgency about the financial crisis and would prepare a plan to recapitalize banks. The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares rose 2.3 percent.
Investors need to see leaders taking action, and the lack of a plan or leadership has made markets nutty, Kaufman said. These steps, along with the ADP report and how extremely oversold we were, should help markets today.
S&P 500 futures rose 4.8 points and were about even 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 19 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 6 points.
Worries over Europe have persisted despite better-than-expected U.S. economic data. The Institute for Supply Management is to release its September non-manufacturing survey at 10 a.m. EDT <1400 GMT> and is seen at 52.9 versus 53.3 in the prior month.
Costco Wholesale Corp
Late Tuesday fast food chain operator Yum Brands Inc
Investors rushed in to buy technology and other beaten-down sectors as the S&P 500 dipped in and out of a bear market on Tuesday before a late rally drove the index to its largest gain in more than a week.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)