Stock index futures rose on Wednesday as optimism continued to grow that European Union leaders would craft bold measures to combat the region's debt crisis at a summit this week.
* The leaders of France and Germany will not leave this week's EU summit until a powerful deal is reached to arrest the euro zone debt crisis, French officials said, and will seek to impose mandatory penalties on nations that exceed deficit targets.
* 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, also viewed as a bullish sign.
* S&P 500 futures rose 5.2 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 43 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 6.75 points.
* 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.
* Potentially capping equities gains, data showed 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 ratings on US Bancorp , PNC Financial Services Group Inc , and BB&T Corp among others, in the wake of new grading criteria.
* J.C. Penney Co Inc will buy a 16.6 percent stake in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc for $38.5 million, the New York Times reported, citing sources.
* Alpha Natural Resources Inc agreed to pay $1.5 million to each of the families of 29 miners killed in an explosion at a West Virginia mine last year.
* U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday on hopes European leaders would take strong action at the summit this week to end the debt crisis.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)