Stock index futures rebounded on Wednesday from three days of losses on stronger-than-expected growth in China, but investors closely watched developments in Europe's debt crisis.
Optimism about the health of the global economy gathered pace after data showed China's economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter, easing fears about a hard landing in the world's second-largest economy.
It raises hopes that China will avoid a hard landing despite five interest rate hikes and another one on the way, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners.
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 rose 59 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 15.75 points.
A day after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest meeting, which suggested the possibility of more stimulus measures, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to testify before a House of Representatives committee. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). On Thursday he is due to appear before a Senate panel.
The inability of Washington to find a solution to U.S. debt issues is frustrating investors. President Barack Obama and top U.S. lawmakers fell short on Monday of finding enough spending cuts for a deal to avoid an August 2 debt default, and Republicans came under fresh pressure to agree to tax hikes.
U.S. stocks closed lower for a third straight day on Tuesday as Europe's fiscal woes and a weak start to tech earnings gave investors little reason to buy even after recent losses.
Moody's downgraded Ireland's debt to junk status on Tuesday and said Ireland was likely to follow Greece in needing a second bailout. Irish bond yields jumped to record highs.
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In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top shares rose 0.1 percent, with mining shares up along with metals prices on encouraging data from China. Japan's Nikkei <.NK225> rose 0.4 percent.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)