Stock index futures rose on Wednesday, rebounding from a steep sell-off, as investors were comforted that financially fragile European banks were less reliant on funding from the European Central Bank.

The ECB lent banks 131.9 billion euros ($161.4 billion) in three-month funds, below expectations, as the institutions faced repaying nearly one-half trillion euros in emergency loans on Thursday.

The tender results were seen as a gauge of the condition of European banks as well as the region's fiscal state. Spanish, Portuguese and Greek banks have been the biggest users of the lending facilities.

The amount was half the expectations, and many are breathing a sigh of relief, with European bank stocks leading the rally, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

S&P 500 futures were up 5.4 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 rose 56 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 12 points.

With the Tuesday sell-off sending the S&P 500 index to its lowest point in eight months, investors were still cautious about seeing a buying opportunity, analysts said.

The news out of Europe is a little more constructive than yesterday, but everything still remains fragile and all bets are off until we get through the data flow today, said Craig Peckham, equity trading strategist at Jefferies & Co in New York.

Investors awaited a June employment report from Automatic Data Processing at 8:15 a.m. EDT. Economists in a Reuters survey expected that 60,000 jobs were created in June versus 55,000 in May.

At 8:30 a.m. EDT, the Institute for Supply Management-New York releases the June index of regional business activity. In May, the index read 449.3.

The Institute of Supply Management-Chicago releases its index of manufacturing activity at 9:45 a.m. EDT. Economists forecast a reading of 59.0 in the month versus 59.7 in May.

Hurricane Alex disrupted BP Plc's cleanup of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, delayed plans to boost containment capacity and threatening to push more oily water onshore. Still, U.S.-traded shares of BP rose 5.3 percent to $29.19 in premarket trade.

French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SA will buy U.S. biotechnology firm TargeGen Inc, which is developing treatments against blood diseases, for as much as $560 million in a bid to boost its cancer treatments.

Shares of General Mills Inc fell 2.2 percent to $36.09 in extended trading on Tuesday after the company forecast earnings below expectations.

Google Inc said it will end the automatic redirection of users from its China portal within the next 24 to 48 hours, but Beijing kept silent on whether it will allow the search giant to keep its local business.

A U.S. commission will focus on ties between Goldman Sachs Group Inc and American International Group Inc , and how derivatives transactions between them may have contributed to the financial crisis.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)