Stock index futures signal higher open

By @ibtimes on

Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 up 0.1-0.5 percent.

Efforts to bring a crippled Japanese nuclear plant back under control resumed after workers returned, having withdrawn briefly because of surging radiation levels.

The Producer Price Index for February will be released at 1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. ET). Economists forecast a 0.7 percent rise compared with a 0.8 percent increase in January.

At 1100 GMT (7 a.m. ET), the Mortgage Bankers Association releases Weekly Mortgage Market Index for the week ended March 11, versus the prior week. The mortgage market index read 514.2 and the refinancing index was 2,383.7 in the previous week.

At 1230 GMT, Commerce Department releases housing starts and permits for February. Economists forecast starts fell to a 570,000 annualized rate from 596,000 in January, and a total of 570,000 permits were expected in February compared with 563,000 in the prior month.

Commerce Department releases at 1230 GMT Q4 current account. Economists forecast a deficit of $110.0 billion in the Q4, versus a deficit of $127.2 billion in Q3.

Swiss bank UBS said it had received subpoenas from U.S. and Japanese regulators about whether it made improper attempts to manipulate LIBOR rates, the benchmark price for interbank borrowing costs.

Investors will keep an eye on Arab countries. Helicopters flew overhead and Bahraini police fired teargas as they cleared protesters from a central roundabout that had become the symbol of an uprising by the Shi'ite Muslim majority.

Muammar Gaddafi's forces pushed toward the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and his government predicted victory within days, while world powers debated imposing a no-fly zone to help stop him.

The former chief executive of Freddie Mac , Richard Syron, may face a civil action as part of a wide probe into mortgage disclosure practices, the New York Times reported, citing people briefed on the investigation.

Focus would be on resource-related stocks. Brent crude rose over $2 to touch $110.54 a barrel, while copper prices rose nearly 3 percent, recovering from a three-month low.

More Chinese households are satisfied with current price levels and see less chance of rising inflation in coming months, a central bank survey found.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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