Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 1, 2012.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. REUTERS

The U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open Wednesday as investor sentiment is lifted amid the optimism that the earnings season will reveal encouraging quarterly results from companies.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.20 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.13 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.16 percent.

The earnings season, which started with Alcoa Inc (NYSE: AA) reporting the fourth quarter results Tuesday, is expected to have improved and could witness the markets maintaining the gains made.

S&P 500 revenue dropped 0.8 percent in the third quarter of 2012, according to the figures from Thomson Reuters. It is highly unlikely that such decline would be repeated in the fourth quarter. The expectation is that S&P 500 revenue has risen 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

However, global factors could also affect the markets during the earnings season. The projected decrease in China's growth rate and the continuing debt crisis in the euro zone could result in a market slowdown.

On Tuesday, the U.S. stocks fell as investors remained watchful with concerns that the corporate earnings would be affected by the sluggish global economic growth.

Also there are concerns among market participants about the U.S. fiscal and monetary policies. “Equity sentiment overall continues to sour as fiscal cliff euphoria faded further and markets brace for the reality of likely protracted negotiations to raise the debt ceiling and avert huge spending cuts,” Credit Agricole said in a note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.41 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.32 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.23 percent. The overall market breadth of the NYSE was negative with 1458 advances against 1495 declines. Nasdaq witnessed 1305 declines against 1158 advances.

Asian stocks rose Wednesday as investors remained hopeful that the companies in the U.S. would announce their improving quarterly results to indicate the revival of global economic growth. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Composite gained 95.71 points, Japan’s Nikkei rose 70.51 points and India’s Sensex was up 12.12 points.

European stocks rose Wednesday following global cues. London's FTSE 100 was up 26.09 points, Germany's DAX 30 rose 30.75 points and France's CAC 40 gained 20.03 points.