Futures Gain Ahead of Open; Euro Worries Ebb

U.S. stock index futures gained ahead of the open Wednesday and remained higher after Portugal successfully auctioned government debt, relieving some investor concerns about the state of the euro zone debt crisis.

The major indexes closed higher in the previous session after earnings season got off to a strong start.

Portugal's 2020 bond yield fell, but 2014 bond yields rose in the auction of four and ten-year bonds.

"That is a good result… tomorrow is Spain, let's see what happens there," Louis Gargour, managing partner and chief investment officer at LNG Capital, told CNBC.

On the economic front, import prices rose 1.1 percenton a 3.9 percent surge in energy costs, after a revised 1.5 percent increase in November, the Labor Department reported. Prices rose 4.8 percent for all of 2010.

Applications for U.S. home mortgages rose 2.2 percent for the week ended Jan. 7, to the highest level in a month, as rates edged lower, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

U.S. crude oil inventory details will be out at 10:30 am.

And at 2 p.m., the Treasury's December budget will be released with the federal deficit expected to show a decrease of $80 billion, according to Briefing.com. The Federal Reserve's January Beige Book will be out at the same time.

ITT soared Wednesday after its board of directors approved a plan to split the diversified manufacturer into three publicly traded companies, separating its defense and information business, its water technology unit and its industrial products business. The split will happen before the end of the year, ITT said.

American International Group accepted a $2.16 billion offer for its Taiwan Nan Shan Life unit. The offer was from a consortium led by local conglomerate Ruentex Group.

General Electric fell after Bernstein downgraded the diversified manufacturer (and parent of CNBC) to "market perform," saying GE was approaching fair value

Oil pricesrose slightly as Alaska's key oil pipeline was allowed to resume limited operations after a leak.

And the Bank of China confirmed that it would offer yuan trading to its U.S. customers.

European shares remained higher across the board after the auction. Asian indexes closed higher with the South Korean Kospi hitting a fresh closing high.

On Tap This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Oil inventories, 10-year Treasury note auction, Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaks; Dallas Fed President speaks.
THURSDAY: Bank of England and European Central Bank announcements, international trade, PPI, jobless claims, 30-year Treasury bond auction; after-the-bell earnings from Intel.
FRIDAY: CPI, retail sales, industrial production, consumer sentiment, business inventories, Richmond Fed president speaks; before-the-bell earnings from JPMorgan.

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