Stocks were set for a higher open on Wednesday after the head of the European Commission said it will present options for joint euro zone bonds, a tool that investors view as a step forward to addressing the region's debt crisis.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the body will soon present proposals for common euro bonds. Germany has been opposed to debt jointly issued and underwritten by all 17 members of the bloc.
News that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will hold a conference call on Wednesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also lifted market sentiment.
The cautious optimism that led to stocks' positive finish yesterday has carried over into today, with hopes for a solution to the European debt drama once again lifting sentiment, said Andrea Kramer, strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
But S&P 500 index futures briefly pared gains after data showed growth in U.S. retail sales stalled in August after a pitched battle over spending in Congress led consumer confidence to crumble.
S&P 500 futures gained 9.2 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 were up 67 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 14 points.
Another data showed U.S. producer prices were unchanged in August, held down by a drop in energy goods costs.
Financial stocks were in the spotlight. BNP Paribas
General Electric Co
U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday as investors bought shares beaten down in recent weeks and bet European leaders would take action soon to ease the Greek debt crisis.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
(Corrects to make clear that Moody's downgrade of Societe Generale was not due to its exposure to Greece. The error also appeared in previous versions of this story)