(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a modestly higher opening on the Wall Street as investors awaited the latest minutes of Federal Reserve meeting and weighed a batch of economic readings.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 7 points to 14,014. The Nasdaq futures rose 0.50 points to 2,781.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 0.10 points to 1,528.20.
The U.S. Labor Department said core producer price index advanced 0.2 percent last month, matching economists expectations. The headline index also rose 0.2 percent, versus estimate of an increase of 0.4 percent for January.
Another reported showed housing starts in the United States declined 8.5 percent to 890,000 for January, while permits for future building construction rose 1.8 percent to 925,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Economists' expected housing starts at 925,000 and building permits of 915,000.
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At 2 p.m. ET, the Fed will release the minutes of its Jan 29-30 policy-setting committee meeting.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks closed in green amid hopes of corporate merger activity and strong economic sentiment data from Germany also buoyed sentiment.
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Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP) jumped 8.76 percent in premarket after agreeing to acquire OfficeMax Inc. (NYSE: OMX) in a stock deal. Office Depot will issue 2.69 new shares for each outstanding OfficeMax common stock. OMX rose 9.00 percent in premarket.
Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) edged lower in premarket after the PC maker reported a 31 percent drop in quarterly earnings due to lower revenue across its units and regions.
Analog Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ADI) shed 1.08 percent in premarket after the integrated circuits maker posted quarterly results that missed market expectations.
Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN) tumbled 9.20 percent in premarket after the maker of navigation devices reported a drop in quarterly earnings as declines in personal navigation devices (PND) resulted in lower revenue and the company guided 2013 below consensus.
Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: MDRX) added 2.86 percent in premarket after the provider of clinical software applications posted better-than-expected quarterly revenue.
Sodastream International Ltd. (NASDAQ: SODA) lost 3.30 percent in premarket after the company reported its fourth quarter results. Earnings and revenue rose, while gross margin contracted.
La-Z-Boy Inc. (NYSE: LZB) jumped 9.96 percent in premarket after the maker of reclining chairs announced quarterly results that topped Wall Street projections.
European markets traded mixed, with Germany's DAX up 0.14 percent to trade at 7,762.88. France's CAC40 shed 0.22 percent to trade at 3,727.47. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.39 percent to trade at 6,404.21.
Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.60 percent to end at $2,397.18. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.84 percent to end at 11,468.28. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.71 percent to close at 23,307.41. India's Sensex closed at 19,462.75, up 0.04 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures traded 0.08 percent higher at $96.74 per barrel. Gold futures fell 0.66 percent to $1,593.60 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro slid 0.12 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3371, and the British pound fell 0.73 percent to 1.5313. The dollar dropped 0.06 percent against the Japanese yen at 93.5100.