Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher opening on Wall Street with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.1 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.1 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures flat at 1020 GMT.

The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of leading European shares was flat at 1,027.52 points, ahead of key sovereign debt auctions in Spain and Italy this week.

The main data release of the day will be the Beige Book, in which each Federal Reserve bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its district; the report is expected to give more evidence of the U.S. economy continuing a slow trek back to better health.

Clothing retailer Urban Outfitters Inc , grappling with piled-up inventory and declining gross margins, said Chief Executive Glen Senk resigned in a surprise move that sent the company's shares tumbling 15 percent in after-hours trading.

The New York state's financial regulator is investigating several large banks, including Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc , on whether they overcharged customers on force-place insurance, a source familiar with the matter said.

Merck & Co aims to return more cash to shareholders this year even as it looks for acquisition and partnership opportunities, Chairman and Chief Executive Ken Frazier said on Tuesday.

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries slipped further below 2 percent on Wednesday and the euro fell against the dollar, floundering near a record low versus the Australian dollar, in cautious trade a day ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting and debt sales from Spain.

The private equity firm Blackstone Group LP and real estate investment trust DDR Corp have agreed to buy 46 U.S. shopping centers from an affiliate of Israeli holding company Elbit Imaging Ltd for $1.43 billion including debt.

Intel announced multi-year pacts with Motorola Mobility and Lenovo <0992.HK> to develop smartphones and tablets, and said the first Google Android phones using the top chipmaker's processors would go on sale this year.

Super Micro Computer Inc cut its second-quarter forecast, as the hardware components maker continued to suffer from the effects of the Thailand disaster.

U.S. refining company Marathon Petroleum Corp said on Tuesday it expects to report a small fourth-quarter loss as crude oil prices rose nearly $20 a barrel from a year ago, erasing profitability.

Shoemaker Crocs Inc expects fourth-quarter revenue to be at the high end of its earlier estimate, becoming the latest footwear company to flag strong sales numbers for the holiday season.

Encana has been encouraged by early drilling results in Louisiana's undeveloped Tuscaloosa Marine shale deposit, a company official said, a promising sign for the area as companies race to find the next big U.S. shale play.

U.S. stocks climbed to a five-month high on Tuesday, led by materials stocks after an upbeat forecast by aluminum company Alcoa and strong gains in bank shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 69.78 points, or 0.56 percent, to 12,462.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 11.38 points, or 0.89 percent, to 1,292.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 25.94 points, or 0.97 percent, to 2,702.50.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Greg Mahlich)