Futures Rise on Fed Forecast, China Growth

Stock index futures pointed to another higher open on Wall Street Wednesday as the dollar hit a new 15-month low after Federal Reserve officials reinforced the view that rates will remain low for some time.

It will be a quiet day as far as scheduled events are concerned, with many businesses and the bond market closed for the Veterans Day holiday, though the stock market will be open for a normal trading session.

The market was largely upbeat on early corporate news.

In an effort to attract holiday shoppers, Wal-Mart said it will offer a $100 gift card to shoppers who buy BlackBerrys and an assortment of devices that go with the smart phones.

Research in Motion , which makes the BlackBerry, saw its shares rise 1.5 percent in premarket trading on the news, while Wal-Mart shares also edged higher.

Elsewhere, home builder Toll Brothers after the bell Tuesday reported sharply improved results for its fiscal fourth quarter, saying orders rose and cancellations slipped below 10 percent. The company's shares jumped more than 10 percent premarket on the news.

Also, Macy's beat market expectations but thwarted any enthusiasm with a downbeat outlook for the fourth quarter. Shares fell 3.5 percent premarket.

In deal news, United Technologies reported is close to purchasing a unit of CNBC.com-parent General Electric for $1.8 billion, Bloomberg reported. GE was up 1.2 percent premarket, while United Technologies edged higher.

Ford shares gained 1.7 percent premarket after China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, vying to buy Ford Motor's loss-making Volvo unit, said it has developed a turnaround plan under which it hopes to double Volvo's sales to near 1 million vehicles a year.

Strong Chinese data on factory output and retail sales also boosted market sentiment.

Among other reasons for renewed optimism: upbeat comments by executives of both FedEx and UPS about the upcoming holiday season.

  • UPS Sees Better Holiday Demand

Though Wall Street's major averages barely moved Tuesday, that might be considered a bullish sign considering the sizable Monday run-up.

And the Dow's 20-point advance was good enough to set another 2009 closing high and the highest close since October 3, 2008. Over the past five sessions, the Dow has gained nearly 5 percent.

One item NOT on the calendar because of the holiday is the usual Wednesday release of oil inventory numbers, normally out at 10:30 am New York time. Instead, the weekly numbers will be out tomorrow at 11 am.

With the MBA closed in observance of Veterans Day, weekly mortgage applications data was not released.

The most prominent after-the-bell report will come from Applied Materials , the biggest maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

It's not necessarily big news when a U.S. Treasury Secretary endorses a strong dollar, but Timothy Geithner's latest comments in Tokyo were more emphatic than usual. Geithner said he believes "strongly" in the need to maintain a strong dollar and that the U.S. is determined to pare its budget deficit.

— Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk, and Jeff Cox, CNBC.com staff writer, contributed to this report.