The U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open Wednesday ahead of the Census Bureau’s data on housing starts and building permits.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.02 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.08 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.13 percent. 

The Census Bureau will publish Wednesday the housing starts, measuring the change in the annualized number of residential buildings that began construction each month. It is expected to show a rise to 770,000 in September, up from 750,000 in August.

The Census Bureau will also report the data on building permits, which measure the change in the number of new building permits issued by the government each month. The report is expected to show a rise to 810,000 in September, up from 801,000 in August.

On Tuesday, the U.S. markets rose with investor sentiment turning positive with many companies reporting better than expected earnings. Among the Fortune 500 companies that reported strong quarterly earnings were Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs, UnitedHealth and Mattel.

Meanwhile, market confidence also went up on the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization report Tuesday showing an upswing in the manufacturing output. The report, measuring the change in the total inflation-adjusted value of output produced by manufacturers, mines and utilities, rose 0.4 percent in September up from 1.2 percent fall in August.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.95 percent, the S&P 500 Index was up 1.03 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.21 percent.

European markets rose Wednesday as investor confidence was lifted by hopes that Spain will soon apply for a precautionary conditioned credit line and hence trigger the European Central Bank’s new bond buying plan. London's FTSE 100 was up 6.98 points, Germany's DAX 30 index rose 9.75 points and France's CAC 40 gained 6.87 points.

Asian stocks also rose Wednesday following global cues. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 193.59 points, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 105.24 points and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite Index gained 13.61 points.