(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a higher open amid encouraging news from China even as set of domestic data weighed on the sentiment.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures added 41.00 points to 12,972. The Nasdaq futures rose 2.75 points to 2,667.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 3.10 points to 1,408.60.
Investors weighed some positive comments by Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping, who said the country will keep macroeconomic policies stable to sustain growth.
On the domestic economic front, a report showed U.S. economy added fewer private sector jobs than expected in November. According to the ADP National Employment Report in collaboration with Moody's Analytics, U.S. private sector added just 118,000 jobs in November, versus economists expectations of an addition of 125,000 jobs and a revised 157,000 jobs in October.
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"Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the job market in November, slicing an estimated 86,000 jobs from payrolls," Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said. "Abstracting from the storm, the job market turned in a good performance during the month."
The keenly-awaited Labor Department's non-farm payrolls data and unemployment rate are due on Friday.
In other data, nonfarm business sector labor productivity advanced at a 2.9 percent rate for the third quarter, coming in better than economists expectations of a 2.7 percent rise. Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses fell 1.9 percent, sharper than expectations of a drop of 0.9 percent.
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Another data may show that the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index edged down to 53.5 percent last month from 54.2 percent in October. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks closed on a negative note amid continued uncertainty about the looming "fiscal cliff". Investors continue to remain concerned over whether lawmakers in Washington will be able to reach a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff". President Barack Obama has reiterated his push for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: ALTR, CIE,P, FB, OXM, CHTP
In corporate news, Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) shed 2.11 percent in premarket after the company said it expects revenue for the fourth quarter to drop by 8 percent to 10 percent on a sequential basis compared with 6 percent to 10 percent decline projected earlier.
Cobalt International Energy Inc. (NYSE: CIE) surged 14.80 percent in premarket after the exploration company announced a "significant" oil discovery at its North Platte prospect in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) slumped 14.50 percent after the internet radio company forecast an unexpected loss for the fourth quarter and issued a downbeat revenue guidance.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) added 1.75 percent in premarket. The Menlo Park, California-based social-networking company will join the NASDAQ-100 Index beginning December 12, 2012.
Oxford Industries Inc. (NYSE: OXM) may be in focus after the apparel company guided fourth quarter below Wall Street view. Third-quarter earnings jumped 85.3 percent on continued strong sales performance from Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer brands.
Chelsea Therapeutics International Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHTP) tumbled 28.56 percent after the company announced results from a late-stage trial of its experimental Parkinson's disease treatment.
European markets traded in green, with Germany's DAX adding 0.20 percent to trade at 7,450.12. France's CAC40 rose 0.25 percent to trade at 3,589.32. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.16 percent to trade at 5,878.55.
Asian markets closed higher, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index jumping 2.87 percent to finish at 2,031.91. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.39 percent to finish at 9,468.84. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 2.16 percent to end at 22,270.91. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,391.86, up 0.23 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures inched up 0.15 percent to $88.63 per barrel. Gold futures advanced 0.35 percent to $1,701.80 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro dipped 0.21 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3066, and the British pound edged 0.07 percent lower to 1.6089. The dollar gained 0.28 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.1300.