Stock index futures edge higher, oil eyed

By @ibtimes on

Wall Street was set to edge higher on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq flat to 0.2 percent higher at 1020 GMT.

The Middle East was likely to be a focus as rebels and residents said the tanks of pro-Gaddafi forces were closing in on the rebel-held main square of Zawiyah and their snipers were shooting at anything that moved.

Brent crude traded back above $113 a barrel, after two-days of losses as Arab world worries outweighed reassurances from OPEC of ample spare capacity.

In earnings news, Suntech Power Holdings , the world's top solar panel maker, posted sharply higher quarterly earnings and reiterated its 2011 revenue and earnings outlook, which were above estimates, on Tuesday.

Texas Instruments said it was hurt in February by a PC component supply disruption and issued a current-quarter earnings target slightly below estimates.

HCA, the biggest U.S. for-profit hospital chain, plans to go public on Wednesday and could raise up to $3.7 billion to become the biggest private-equity backed public offering ever.

Plastics company Styron Corp is planning an initial public offering less than nine months after private equity firm Bain Capital bought it from Dow Chemical , two sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

Prosecutors and lawyers for Galleon hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam were expected to head into opening statements on Wednesday in the biggest U.S. insider trading case in decades.

Warner Bros is opening up a new revenue source for Facebook by making some of its films available on the social network site, signaling new competition for online entertainment companies.

In economic news, investors will watch U.S. wholesale inventories for January at 1500 GMT.

At 1830 GMT, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner testifies before the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs on full-year 2012 Budget Request for Department of Treasury International Programs.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top shares was up 0.1 percent, with British insurer Prudential and European aerospace and defense group EADS gaining on the back of positive results.

Gains were limited ahead of a Portuguese government bond auction, with worries about the euro zone peripheral debt situation resurfacing.

Wall Street gained on Tuesday helped by a positive profit forecast from Bank of America and a pullback in oil prices lifting U.S. stocks out of the technical danger zone in another sign of the market's near-term resilience.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 1 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 0.7 percent.

(Reporting by Joanne Frearson; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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