Futures jumped Wednesday after a better-than-expected rise in durable-goods orders.
Futures had already been pointing to a higher open amid anticipation of the Federal Reserve's announcement on interest rates and monetary policy.
Orders for durable goods, big-ticket items like refrigerators and cars, rose 1.8 percentlast month, triple the 0.6-percent gain expected, amid strong aircraft sales. Excluding volatile transportation components, orders were up 1.1 percent.
Still to come: A report on new-home sales at 10 am ET and crude inventories at 10:30.
New home sales are expected to have risen to 360,000 annualized units versus 352,000 in April, a Reuters poll showed.
The Federal Open Market Committee releases its statement at 2:15 pm New York time, at the end of two days of meetings. Economists expect the Fed to give a nod to stabilization of the economy. It may also add some weight to its comments about holding rates down, and it may tweak its quantitative easing program.
The dollar hit its lowest level in nearly two weeks against a basket of currencies ahead of the Fed meeting.
A lower dollar boosted mining stocks and in Asia and Europe as metals prices increased. Gold climbed past $930.
In the Treasury market, a $40 billion offering of 2-year notes was well received Tuesday, with large participation by foreign central banks and others, traders said. Another $35 billion in 5-years will be auctioned Wednesday.
Oil slid below $69 a barrel after data from the American Petroleum Institute's (API) showed a surge in U.S. gasoline stockpiles, signaling weaker-than-expected demand from the world's top energy user.
In corporate news, technology stocks got a boost after Oracle reported expectation-beating earnings. Oracle shares were 2.6 percent higher in premarket trading.
But Boeing shares continued to slide following yet another delay in the debut of its Dreamliner aircraft. Shares slid 1.3 percent premarket after dropping nearly 6.5 percent Tuesday; Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the stock to equal-weight from overweight.
JPMorgan Chase was the world's strongest bank in 2008, moving up from fourth place the previous year, magazine The Banker reported in its annual list of 1,000 strongest banks globally. The UK's Royal Bank of Scotland was the biggest loser of 2008.
Staying the in the financial sector, Citigroup is raising the base salaries of rank-and-file employees by as much as 50 percent this year to offset smaller annual bonuses, the New York Times reported.
In addition, Bank of New York Mellon is one of the three remaining contenders to buy Citi's Japanese asset management unit, according to the Nikkei business daily.
Meanwhile, a major union this week called on Morgan Stanley to reverse recent salary hikes for senior executives and other top earners, the Wall Street Journal said citing a letter from the union.
And General Motors notified its white-collar workers late Tuesday that it plans to cut up to 4,000 more jobs by the end of the year.
Companies reporting earnings include Monsanto before the opening bell and Bed, Bath & Beyond , as well as Nike after the closing bell.