U.S. stock index futures were higher but more volatility was likely on Wednesday as European finance ministers appeared ready to prop up struggling banks, with data due on the U.S. labor market and services sector.
Equities ended sharply higher on Tuesday in a very volatile session, with the S&P rising more than 2 percent after dipping into bear market territory -- defined as a 20 percent decline from recent highs.
Markets whipsawed on Tuesday, first falling as European officials postponed a vital aid payment to Greece, then rallying after finance ministers were moving to safeguard banks.
European equities were further lifted on Wednesday by the reports that regional finance ministers had expressed a new sense of urgency about the financial crisis and would prepare a plan to recapitalize banks. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares rose 2.3 percent.
Wall Street has taken its cues from Europe lately, with volatility rising on every sign of progress or delay in tackling the crisis. Fears of contagion have contributed to weakness in recent months and sent the S&P flirting into bear market territory.
S&P 500 futures rose 8 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 added 69 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 13.5 points.
The caution over Europe has persisted despite better-than-expected U.S. economic data. More was due on Wednesday. with the Institute for Supply Management releasing its September non-manufacturing survey at 10 a.m. EDT. The survey is seen holding steady from the prior month, when it was in expansionary territory.
The ADP national employment report, coming at 8:15 a.m. EDT, is expected to show a decline in the number of new private sector jobs compared with last month. The report precedes Friday's key non-farm payroll report, which is seen adding jobs in a rebound from August, a month of flat growth.
Costco Wholesale Corp said early Wednesday that fourth-quarter earnings and revenue missed expectations, while late Tuesday fast food chain operator Yum Brands Inc reported a quarterly profit that matched expectations and said sales in China, a key market, rose 19 percent.
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)