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Futures higher amid Fed, data dump

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open Wednesday, ahead of the bulk of the day's comments from Federal Reserve policymakers and economic data.

With two days to Friday's nonfarm payrolls report, the ADP employment report showed private companies added 182,000 jobs in October.

September's trade deficit came in at $40.8 billion, its lowest level in seven months, Reuters reported.

Stock index futures held higher after the data releases, with the Dow futures up about 40 points.

Treasury yields traded little changed from Tuesday's levels, with the 10-year at 2.21 percent and the 2-year at 0.78 percent as of 9:22 a.m.

The U.S. dollar traded higher against major world currencies, with the euro near $1.089 and the yen at 121.41 yen against the greenback.

The PMI services index is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. and non-manufacturing ISM at 10 a.m.

Investors will also scrutinize remarks from Fed speakers throughout the day for any clues on the timing of a rate hike.

Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Getty Images
Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on bank regulation and supervision at 10 a.m. EST.

In the afternoon, New York Fed President William Dudley is scheduled to give a news briefing on looking beyond the macro economy.

Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer speaks at 7:30 p.m. on central bank independence at the National Economists Club.

Before the open, Fed Gov. Lael Brainard spoke in Frankfurt, saying the Fed is "very dependent" on incoming data, but that there have been some tightening of economic conditions.

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker did not comment on the U.S. economy and monetary policy in prepared remarks for a speech on social innovation capital, Reuters said.

In other economic news, weekly mortgage applications fell 0.8 percent last week as interest rates rose.

Earnings season has also not yet run out of steam, with reports from 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, Michael Kors, Motorola Solutions, Regeneron, 3-D Systems, Lumber Liquidators, OM Asset Management, Shopify, SodaStream, Virtu Financial and Wendy's before the open.

Facebook, Qualcomm, Whole Foods, FireEye, GoDaddy, HubSpot, Sturm Ruger are among the host of firms reporting after the bell.

U.S. stocks have added to the strong gains seen in November so far, with a higher close on Tuesday. The indexes did fall off session highs but more than recovered from an opening dip.

The Nasdaq 100 ended up 0.32 percent at an all-time closing high of 4,719.05 points, topping the previous record set during the dot-com bubble in 2000.

In Europe, stocks were trading higher Wednesday with sentiment lifted by the rally in U.S. and Asian markets.

German carmaker Volkswagen pared losses after earlier falling 7 percent after the group said on Tuesday it had uncovered "inconsistencies" when determining CO2 emission levels which could affect around 800,000 cars.

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Elsewhere, miner and commodity trader Glencore topped benchmarks, trading up over 5 percent after the firm said it was on track to reduce its debt and boost liquidity thanks to asset sales.

CNBC's Evelyn Cheng and Reuters contributed to this report