U.S. stock index futures barely budged on Wednesday after data showed Chinese exports and imports grew faster than expected and after a slew of new corporate deals.

Abbott Laboratories agreed to buy Facet Biotech Corp , which is jointly developing a multiple sclerosis drug, for $27 a share, topping a failed bid from Biogen Idec Inc .

Also, private equity firm Apollo Management reached a deal to buy Citigroup Inc's real estate investment division, Bloomberg reported.

Seeing merger and acquisition news like this is a good sign for the markets since it shows that companies are becoming confident enough to use the cash on their balance sheets, said Kim Caughey, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

* S&P 500 futures were flat but 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 13 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 3.75 points.

Economists raised their forecast for 2010 U.S. economic growth in March, but trimmed the forecast for 2011, according to a survey by Blue Chip Economics Indicators.

Meanwhile, Caterpillar Inc's chief, in a speech to a business group on Tuesday, offered a rosier forecast -- a 3.4 percent increase in U.S. and global gross domestic product in 2010.

Brown-Forman Corp is the only S&P company scheduled to report results on Wednesday, while the day's data includes January wholesale inventories and sales.

The Obama administration is weighing help for U.S. airlines to meet the costs of modernizing the air traffic control system, the top transportation official said Tuesday, as airlines said may charge additional fees and cut costs to increase profits.

Japan's Nikkei average ended flat on Wednesday, while European stocks slipped in early trade as lingering concerns over the region's sovereign debt offset strong trade data from China.

Chinese exports jumped 45.7 percent in February, following a 21.0 percent rise in January, while imports surged 44.7 percent after record growth of 85.5 percent in January, the government said Wednesday.

This is a good sign that business activity is increasing, but we need even higher imports in China to really impact us, Fort Pitt's Caughey said.

One year to the day after stocks fell to their worst close in more than 12 years, major U.S. averages ended slightly higher Tuesday, as gains in telecommunications and industrials offset lower materials stocks pressured by falling commodity prices.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)