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US stocks get ready after best day's trading of 2014

U.S. stock-index futures signaled a higher opening off the back of a Tuesday trading day that saw Wall Street chalk up its strongest performance so far in 2014.

The market was buoyed by Tuesday's announcement that retail sales rose 0.2 percent last month after a 0.4 percent advance the prior month. The gauge of consumer spending was viewed as particularly important in light of last Friday's dismal jobs report for December, which had the government reporting the addition of 74,000 to nonfarm payrolls, far below estimates of about 200,000.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department reported U.S. producer prices jumped the most in six months in December, with the seasonally adjusted producer price index rising 0.4 percent last month, matching economists' expectations.

Separate data from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed mortgage applications jumping sharply last week, with applications rising 11.9 percent.

Earnings season continued on a positive keel as well, with Bank of America reporting earnings that topped expectations, sending shares higher in premarket trading.

After the bell, Netflix will announce its fourth-quarter results, with EPS expected at $0.66 on a revenue of $1.167 billion, which would be a significant increase from the 2012 fourth-quarter results that saw revenue of $945.24 million and EPS of $0.13. Netflix had a successful weekend after Robin Wright won best actress for House of Cards at the Golden Globes, the first such award for an online-only web television series.

Yesterday, the U.S. bank earnings season opened with a solid start from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo, the nation's biggest mortgage lender, reported an 11 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit as bad-loan provisions fell sharply.

The U.S. Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book business survey at 2 p.m. ET, sandwiched between speeches from the Fed's Charles Evans at 12:50 p.m. ET and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart at 17:20 p.m. ET. Investors will look to see whether the Beige Book report signals optimism or adopt a cautious note after the disappointing December jobs number.

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