Stock index futures were higher on Wednesday, hours after President Barack Obama stressed a freeze on government spending and the need to lower corporate tax rates.

* In his Tuesday night State of the Union address to Congress, the president proposed a five-year freeze on some government spending to tackle the budget deficit.

* He also called on lawmakers to work with him to cut the corporate tax rate and to simplify the tax code by eliminating loopholes favorable to specific industries while lowering overall rates.

* Investors are looking ahead to comments from the Federal Reserve, which is expected to nod to an improving U.S. economic outlook as it reaffirms a plan to buy $600 billion in government debt to help speed recovery. The comments will be released Wednesday afternoon.

* S&P 500 futures rose 4.9 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 added 43 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 8.75 points.

* Earnings season continues in full force, with Dow components Boeing Co and United Technologies on tap to report quarterly results. Starbucks Corp , Occidental Petroleum and ConocoPhillips are also scheduled to issue results on Wednesday.

* Early Wednesday, WellPoint Inc reported a fourth-quarter profit that beat expectations while Textron Inc said it expects its 2011 profit to more than triple as demand for business jets begin to recover.

* About 70 percent of S&P companies so far have beaten estimates, but worries about inflation cutting into profits have caused investors to jump on shares of companies that only produce spectacular results.

* Sara Lee Corp has rejected a buyout offer from a group of private equity firms, saying it was too low, according to a report in the New York Post, which cited two sources close to the process.

* New home sales data for December, expected at 10 a.m. will be watched for signs of life in the beaten-up sector. They were expected to have risen to 300,000 from 290,000 the month before, a Reuters poll found.

* U.S. stocks erased losses in a late flurry of buying to end little changed on Tuesday as overall optimism about earnings offset disappointing results from blue chips 3M and Johnson & Johnson .

( Editing by W Simon )