RTTNews - U.S. stocks are set to open higher Wednesday morning anxiously awaiting a slew of economic data due for release later in the day after optimism about a recovery was dented yet again by a drop in consumer confidence.

As of 6.15 am ET, the Dow Futures were up 51 points, the S&P Futures were up 6.90 points, and the Nasdaq 100 futures were up 12.25 points.

Tuesday, stocks ended sharply lower in negative territory, dragged down by lower-than-expected consumer confidence numbers. The negative sentiment generated by the consumer confidence reading offset the optimism relayed by a smaller-than-expected drop in home prices for April and a better-than expected manufacturing sector reading for the Chicago region. The volatility in the oil space also led to some weakness.

The Dow finally closed down by 82.38 points or 1% at 8,447, the Nasdaq dipped by 9.02 points or 0.5% to 1,835, and the S&P 500 fell 7.91 points or 0.9% to 919.

Wednesday would be a very busy day for traders as they await a slew of economic data that could shed more light on the economy's course.

All eyes will be on the Institute for Supply Management's national survey of manufacturing conditions, given expectations that production is poised for a bounce back. The results of the survey is due to be released at 10 am. At about the same time, the Commerce Department will release the construction spending report for May, which is expected to a show a 0.6% decline. Payroll services firm ADP will be releasing its reading on non-farm private employment for June at 8.15 am.

Also on tap are the Mortgage Bankers' Association's purchase applications index for the recent reporting week and the National Association of Realtors pending home sales index for May. Economists expect the index to have remained unchanged in the month.

Traders may also react to comments by San Francisco Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen, who expects the recession to end sometime later this year. However, she cautioned that the pace of recovery might be frustratingly slow and also opined that the prospect of maintaining the interest rate near zero for several years is certainly not outside the realm of possibilities.

The auto space may see some activity in reaction to the monthly sales results to be released by the automakers. The figures aren't likely to be inspiring enough due to consumer spending continuing to remain weak.

After the markets closed, drug maker Pfizer Inc. (PFE), said it is discontinuing the Phase 3 trial of cancer drug, Sutent, for colorectal cancer due to its failure to achieve its primary end point in the study.

Fitch Ratings said Tuesday that it downgraded Toyota Motor Corp.'s (TM) Long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default ratings, or IDRs, and senior unsecured debt ratings to 'A+' from 'AA'. The outlook remains Negative.

Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the country, offered its support to President Barack Obama's plan to overhaul the healthcare system by endorsing the idea of employers requiring to offer insurance to their employees.

Gannett Co., which publishes more than 80 U.S. daily newspapers, including USA TODAY, will cut more than 1,000 jobs in response to continuing revenue declines, Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Citigroup Inc (C) is in final stage of talks to sell its Japanese trust bank, NikkoCiti Trust & Banking Corp, to a Nomura Holdings Inc. (NMR) subsidiary for an estimated 20 billion yen, reports reveal.

Producer and marketer of alcoholic beverages Constellation Brands (STZ) will be releasing financial numbers for the first quarter before the market. Analysts expect the company to report earnings of $0.32 per share for the quarter.

General Mills (GIS), manufacturer and marketer of packaged consumer foods, will be reporting its fourth quarter and full year results for 2008-09 before the market opens. Analysts expect the company to report earnings of $0.80 per share for the quarter.

On the economic front, Germany's Federal Statistical Office announced that the retail sales in real terms dropped 2.9% year-over-year in May, compared with a 0.03% fall in April, revised from 0.8% decline reported initially. China's Purchasing Managers' Index for the manufacturing sector rose to 53.2 in June from 53.1 in the prior month pointing towards a gradual expansion in the sector, driven by stimulus measures. The Quarterly Tankan Survey released by Bank of Japan revealed that confidence in Japan's large manufacturers improved in the second quarter for the first time since Dec 2006. In Australia, building approvals for May unexpectedly declined after three months of growth raising concerns about the pace of recovery.

Light sweet crude oil for August delivery is trading higher by $1.27 at $71.16 a barrel. The space is likely to see more volatility amid the release of the weekly petroleum inventory report by the Energy Information Administration. On the currency front, the Euro is trading higher against other currencies following higher stock prices in the markets.

The markets across Europe are trading in positive territory led by banks and commodity stocks following rise in commodity prices.

The markets in Asia-Pacific region ended mixed ahead of key economic data in the U.S. The Shanghai Composite Index in China closed above the 3,000-mark following better than expected economic data. Profit taking in Japan and drop in home building approvals in Australia dragged the respective markets lower. Among other markets, India, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan markets ended in positive territory. The market in Hong Kong is closed for a public holiday.

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