Wall Street looks set to extend the previous session's gains Wednesday, with stock index futures pointing to a modest rise.
Market momentum got a strong boost from Deere after the world's largest maker of tractors and harvesters reported quarterly earnings of 57 cents a sharethat were far above Wall Street expectations. Shares rose 6.5 percent in premarket trading.
Futures also rose a few points after the government said housing starts rose a better-than-expected 2.8 percent in January, while building permits fell 4.9 percent, a drop that was less than anticipated.
The broader market has been alternating between gains and losses for the past eight sessions. But a late rally Tuesday added to already strong gains and gave the Dow and the S&P their biggest one-day advances since Nov. 9.
In other company news, Campbell's Soup cut its sales forecast for 2010, projecting a 2.5 to 3.5 percent gain against a previous forecast of 4 to 5 percent. Shares fell nearly 2 percent premarket.
In merger news, American International Group's sale to MetLife is likely to be delayed because of a tax dispute that likely will require an Internal Revenue Service ruling, the Wal Street Journal reported. AIG shares gained more than 1 percent premarket.
Also, Walgreen plans to buy its rival Duane Reade for $1.075 building. The Reade chain is ubiquitous through New York City and will maintain its name. Walgreen shares edged lower premarket.
The economic calendar is busy Wednesday, including the release of January housing starts and building permits at 8:30 am New York time. Economists are looking for a 5.9 percent rise in starts, compared to a 4 percent drop in December, while permits are expected to drop 3.1 percent after a 10.9 percent gain in December.
Industrial production is expected to improve upon December's unchanged showing with a 1 percent rise for January when that number comes out at 9:15 am, while factory capacity utilization, out at the same time, is forecast to rise to 72.6 percent from December's 72 percent reading.
At 7 am, the Mortgage Bankers Association will be out with its weekly report on mortgage applications, and at 2 pm, the Federal Reserve is out with the minutes of the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting, with investors once again looking for any insight on the Fed's exit strategy from accommodative policy measures.
The government will also be releasing the January monthly budget statement at 2 pm.
Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser has a 12:45 pm speech, on which he'll focus on the progress in resolving the financial crisis.
Among the notable names on the earning's calendar: Devon Energy, Genzyme, Host Hotels, OfficeMax, and P.F. Chang's. After the bell, Dow component Hewlett-Packard will be reporting, along with Applied Materials, Nvidia, Priceline.com, and Analog Devices.