U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Wednesday as investors awaited January wholesale sales and inventory data and digested 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.

These are strategic add-on deals, not motivated by a need to divest assets, which is indicative of how management teams are now confident enough to use their capital to make deals. It's a very bullish sign of confidence, said Craig Peckham, equity trading strategist at Jefferies & Co in New York.

S&P 500 futures fell 0.2 points but 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 dipped 1 point, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 2 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 , the maker of Jack Daniel's whiskey and Finlandia vodka, reported lower quarterly earnings and narrowed its full-year view.

Citigroup Inc shares rose 4.5 percent to $3.99 in premarket trade after Bloomberg reported U.S. private equity firm Apollo Management LP agreed to buy its real estate investment division.

April crude futures edged higher after OPEC raised its demand outlook for 2010 and ahead of a U.S. government report on inventories.

Japan's Nikkei average ended flat on Wednesday, while European stocks rose as banks recovered from early losses.

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.

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.