(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a modestly higher opening on the Wall Street as the Federal Reserve's meet gets underway and investors focused on negotiations in Washington over a deal to avert the the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 27.00 points to 13,214. The Nasdaq futures gained 10.50 points to 2,661. Standard and Poor's 500 futures added 3.60 points to 1,423.80.
Investors keenly anticipate the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting starting Tuesday and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's conference on Wednesday for any hints regarding monetary policy. Economists expect the Fed to launch a new bond-buying program to spur growth.
Also weighing on the sentiment were talks in Washington over an agreement to address the so-called "fiscal cliff". President Barack Obama has pushed 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.
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On the U.S. data front, a report showed that the trade gap widened to $42.2 billion for October from a revised $40.3 billion in September, while economists expected deficit of $42.6 billion.
On Monday, U.S. stocks closed on a modestly higher note amid upbeat data from China and investors weighed budget talks in Washington.
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In corporate news, American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) said the U.S. Department of the Treasury has agreed to sell remaining shares in AIG. Treasury priced an offering of roughly 234.2 million shares of AIG at $32.50 each. AIG shares gained 2.5 percent in premarket.
Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG) fell 2.15 percent in premarket after the the discount retailer posted its quarterly earnings and updated its forecast for the full year. The company said it continues to be cautious for the remainder of the year and added it is facing a significant same-store sales comparison from its fourth quarter of 2011.
Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) may be in focus after the maker of analog chips narrowed its fourth-quarter earnings and revenue guidance.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) added 1.38 percent in premarket. The air liner said it will invest $360 million in Virgin Atlantic, acquiring a 49 percent stake currently held by Singapore Airlines.
Magellan Health Services Inc. (NASDAQ: MGLN) issued its earnings and revenue forecast for 2013 and the specialty managed healthcare business named its board member Barry Smith as its chief executive.
Casey's General Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: CASY) reported a drop in quarterly net income amid rise in revenue and operating expenses.
TNS Inc. (NYSE: TNS) jumped 44.57 percent in premarket after the data communications company agreed to be acquired by an investor group led by Siris Capital for roughly $862 million or $21.00 per share in cash.
European markets traded higher, with Germany's DAX up 0.64 percent to trade at 7,579.07. France's CAC40 added 0.73 percent to trade at 3,638.64. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.12 percent to trade at 5,929.02.
Asian markets ended on a mixed note, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index down 0.44 percent to finish at 2,074.70. Japan's Nikkei 225 edged 0.09 percent lower to close at 9,525.32. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.21 percent to end at 22,323.94. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,387.14, down 0.12 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures advanced 0.70 percent to $86.16 per barrel. Gold futures inched up 0.03 percent to $1,714.90 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.38 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2990, and the British pound advanced 0.08 percent to 1.6088. The dollar added 0.05 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.4000.