(REUTERS) - Wall Street stocks were set for a higher open on Wednesday after better-than-expected N.Y. manufacturing data and remarks reiterated China's commitment to investing in euro zone debt.
But futures eased after news that euro zone finance officials were examining ways of delaying parts or even all of a second bailout for Greece, while still avoiding a disorderly default, rekindling fears about the region's debt crisis.
You never know what could happen with the unstable government in Greece and the unpopularity of the measures among Greek citizens, said Cort Gwon, chief strategist at HudsonView Capital Management in New York.
A gauge of manufacturing in New York State picked up in February to its highest level in more than 1-1/2 years, though the pace of new orders slowed, the New York Federal Reserve said.
In Europe, Germany's gross domestic product contracted 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter but still topped forecasts, data showed, while France's economy grew more than expected.
Chinese Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan reiterated previous comments from Premier Wen Jiabao that the nation was ready to play a bigger role in solving Europe's debt problems, and said China remains confident in the euro, lifting sentiment for stocks and other risk assets.
Financial stocks will be in focus after European bank shares rallied, boosted by BNP Paribas' forecast-beating results.
S&P 500 futures were up 4.9 points and 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 40 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 11.25 points.
The Federal Reserve releases January industrial production and capacity utilization data at 9:15 a.m. EST. Economists expect a 0.7 percent rise in production and a reading of 78.6 percent for capacity utilization. In December, production rose 0.4 percent and capacity utilization was 78.1 percent.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo February housing market index is due at 10 a.m. EST. Economists look for a reading of 26 versus 25 in January.
A Goldman Sachs technology analyst is under investigation by federal authorities for leaking inside information to hedge funds, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources.
Talks between Yahoo Inc. and China's Alibaba Group over a $17 billion tax-free asset swap hit an impasse, according to sources.