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Wall Street set for higher open

U.S. stock futures pointed to a positive start for Wall Street on Tuesday as commodities recovered slightly.

Oil traded more than 1.5 percent higher, with crude topping $45 a barrel and brent near $48 a barrel. Copper gained half a percent.

Glencore held more than 15 percent higher in London trade after extending recent losses with a nearly 30 percent plunge Monday amid concerns about debt levels for the commodities and trading giant. On Tuesday, a number of brokers said worries about the firm's debt pile were overdone.

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The bounce helped European stocks recover from a sharply lower open to trade mixed. Asian stock markets ended the day with major losses, with Chinese stocks off more than 2 percent and Japan's blue-chip Nikkei stock index closing down 4.05 percent.

Signs of weakness in China — the world's second biggest economy — has battered commodity prices such as copper and iron ore this year, and in turn companies in the metals and mining sectors.

NYSE New York Stock Exchange traders markets
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Gains in commodity prices and Europe helped U.S. stock futures reverse early losses, with Dow Jones industrial average futures up about 40 points.

Tech stocks also held slightly higher in pre-market trade. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) was up about 1 percent in pre-market trade after plunging 6.3 percent Monday.

On Monday, the S&P 500 stock index fell to a one-month low, closing below 1900, as a plunge in biotechs weighed heavily on health care. A rise in consumer spending data for August added to an improving U.S. economic picture that could support a near-term rise in rates.

Goldman Sachs cut its year-end forecast for the S&P 500 by 5 percent to 2,000 on Tuesday, citing a combination of the slower pace of economic activity in China and the U.S. and the fall in oil prices.

Read MoreStocks head to lows, may set up for negative year

On Tuesday, S&P/Case-Shiller's 20-City Index reported a 5 percent rise in July, roughly in-line with analysts' estimates for a 5.1 percent increase.

The September consumer confidence index due out at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Marc Ostwald, a strategist at ADM Investor Services, said that while the day's U.S. economic data would get some attention, "the focus will primarily be on the fallen angels of the equity and credit markets, i.e. Glencore and Volkswagen and the fall-out for their respective sectors."

"In both cases, and in broader market terms, the facts of month and quarter end, Fed lift-off speculation, China economy concerns and underlying market liquidity problems are doubtless exacerbating, if not exaggerating the scale of the moves," he added.

German car maker Volkswagen has been firmly in the spotlight in the past week after it admitted to cheating in U.S. emissions tests. The scandal has rocked the auto sector as well as raised concerns about the outlook for Germany's economy, which is the biggest in Europe. The stock held mildly lower in European trade.

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In monetary policy news, India's central bank unexpectedly cut rates by 50 basis points to support economic growth.