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Futures Point to Positive Open for Second Half

Stock futures pointed to a higher opening for Wall Street on Wednesday as the market looks for a positive beginning to the second quarter.

A new month and a new quarter begins on Wall Street, a day after the second quarter and June ended with losses for the major averages.

Futures nudged a bit higher after early data from outplacement firm Challenger, Gary & Christmas showed planned layoffs at US firms in June at their lowest level since March 2008.

Nonetheless, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 ended June with gains for the fourth straight month. For the Dow, it came down to the final session, but those losses put the Dow on the negative side for June, ending a three-month winning streak.

For the quarter, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all gained, marking the first quarterly gains for the Dow and S&P 500 since the third quarter of 2007. The new quarter may get off to a positive start, with U.S. stock index futures and European averages pointing higher ahead of the open.

The first key economic report of the day comes at 8:15 am New York time, when the ADP employment report from June comes out.

Economists are looking for a loss of 374,000 private sector jobs during June, as investors try to get an advance handle on Thursday's June employment report from the Labor Department. That report is out a day earlier than usual because of the Independence Day holiday on Friday.

The Institute for Supply Management puts out its monthly manufacturing index at 10 am. Economists are looking for a reading of 44, compared to last month's reading of 42.1. Investors will also see the weekly report on mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association at 7 am.

Also out this morning at 10 am, June data on construction spending, and May's pending home sales report from the National Association of Realtors.

Automakers will be out with their June sales numbers today, starting with Ford at noon. Comments from the automakers have been generally optimistic about the month, with Ford saying sales should be down less than 20 percent from a year ago.

While that may not seem upbeat at first glance, it should be noted that the automakers were routinely reporting year-over-year drops of 40 percent earlier this year. Most analysts think that the pace of industry sales returned to the 10 million level during June.

Elsewhere, shares at Skystar Biopharmaceutical tumbled more than 26 percent premarket after the China-based company that makes medicine for livestock priced a $1.4 million offering at $12.98 a share, a nearly 28 percent discount to Tuesday's closing price.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer at CNBC.com