NYSE Nov 2012 2
NYSE. Reuters

The U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open Wednesday ahead of the Census Bureau’s data on housing starts and building permits.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.16 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.12 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.25 percent.

Investors are likely to focus on the Census Bureau’s housing starts and building permits reports, which are due to be released before the markets open. Housing starts, which measure the change in the annualized number of residential buildings that began construction each month, are currently at a four-year high and even with a slight decline forecast for November they are likely to remain very strong. Economists expect housing starts to decline to 875,000 in November from 894,000 in October.

Building permits, which measure the change in the number of new building permits issued by the government each month, is likely to rise to 875,000 in November, up from 868,000 in October.

On the corporate front, shares of Oracle Corp. will be in focus after the company reported second quarter earnings above estimates. Its second quarter net profit rose to $2.6 billion or $0.53 per share from $2.2 billion or $0.36 per share in the same period last year. Adjusted net profit was $3.1 billion or $0.64 per share, up from $2.8 billion or $0.54 per share last year and also topped Reuters estimation of $0.61 per share.

U.S. stock markets advanced Tuesday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at its highest level in two months on optimism that a deal to avert the ‘fiscal cliff’ will be reached sooner.

Hopes of an accord rose after the U.S. President Barack Obama proposed to raise the tax threshold to $400K from $250K. However, this offer is far below Republican House Speaker Boehner’s $1million, but market participants regard the compromise as a progress in the negotiation.

European stock markets were trading higher with the FTSE 100 up by 15.03 points, the DAX30 up by 9.05 points and the CAC 40 up by 5.10 points.

Asian stock markets advanced Wednesday on hopes that the U.S. lawmakers will soon arrive at a consensus to avoid the "fiscal cliff” and the Japanese Central Bank will add to the economic stimulus buoyed sentiment.

Japan's Nikkei climbed 2.39 percent and crossed the 10,000 level first time since April 2012 on hopes that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will add to the economic stimulus. The BOJ concludes its monetary policy meeting Thursday and is expected to increase the asset purchase fund by 10 trillion yen.