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Market Update

U.S. Stock Futures Higher Ahead of Data

U.S. stock index futures turned higher, signaling a higher open for Wall Street equities Wednesday, ahead of key data due today.

The S&P 500 Futures were up 7.00 points to 1354.70 points at 5.25 a.m. Eastern Time. The Nasdaq Futures gained 14.50 points to 2590.50 points.

A raft of economic data is due later today, beginning with the Empire State Manufacturing Survey for February. Federal Reserve Bank of New York will be releasing the report at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The Treasury Department will be releasing the data on net capital flows and foreign treasury purchases for December at 9:00 a.m.

At 9:15, the Federal Reserve releases the industrial production and capacity utilization figures for January. Analysts expect industrial production to increase 0.7% as against 0.4% in December.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo releases its housing market index for February at 10:00 a.m. The index is expected to be at 26 up from 25 in January.

Also in focus would be the FOMC policy meeting minutes, which is due at 2:00 p.m.  

On the earnings front, companies due to report results today include CBS, Comcast, Dean Foods, Deere, Illumina Inc., Dr Pepper Snapple and Marriott.

Shares of Hartford Financial Services Group were up 5.3% in pre-market activity after the company late Tuesday issued a response to John Paulson’s proposal. The hedge-fund billionaire had suggested separating the company's property-and-casualty arm from its life insurance business as a measure to boost shareholder value.

Dean Foods gained more than 10% in pre-market trade after the company reported better-than-estimated fourth quarter earnings and held its earnings outlook for the year in line with estimates. It also held a positive outlook on its milk business that has been struggling for some years. 

EU finance leaders are due to hold a teleconference today to discuss a second tranche of bailout funds for Greece. Greek coalition leaders said yesterday they would give written assurances to international lenders the mandated austerity reforms would be implemented.

Meanwhile, China offered support, with Governor Zhou Xiaochuan of People’s Bank of China stating Beijing would help the euro-zone resolve its debt crisis and would continue to invest in the region’s sovereign debt assets.