Futures Hold Gains Amid Euro Zone Hopes

Futures were higher Wednesday as investors were encouraged by the European Commission that said it would present options for joint euro zone bonds and largely shrugged off retail sales that came in weaker than expected.

Investors were also waiting for the outcome of a teleconference meeting between the French president, Germany's chancellor and the Greek prime minister as fears over Greece's default persisted.

Europe was also in focus as ratings agency Moody's announced that it was cutting the credit rating of two French banks, Credit Agricole and Societe Generale, citing their exposure to Greek debt as the reason for the downgrade.

Meanwhile, Italy's lower house of parliament approved the confidence vote on the 54-billion euro austerity package. The final vote on the package is due later today at 2pm ET.

On the economic front, retail sales were unchanged in August, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected a gain of 0.2 percent, according to a Reuters poll.

And the producer price index was also unchanged in August, after a 0.2 percent gain in July, according to the Labor Department. Economists had expected a decline of 0.1 percent.

Figures for July business inventories are expected at 10:00am ET.

In corporate news the Justice Department is probing alleged criminal activities by employees of Ebay. The department suspects staff of taking information from Craigslist to develop a competing service.

Delivering Alpha - presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor
Delivering Alpha - presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor

Dow component General Electric is also in the news, as it plans to redeem the preferred shares held by Berkshire Hathaway for $3.3 billion. Those shares were bought by Berkshire during the 2008 financial crisis.

Dell gained after the PC maker said it is repurchasing an additional $5 billion of its shares, a month after the firm slashed its 2012 sales forecast.

Meanwhile, Yahoo's board is scheduled to meet later today to discuss options for the Internet firm's outlook, including the search for a new CEO according to Reuters.

Weekly mortgage applications gained last week for the first time in a month as interest rates tumbled even further, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: twitter.com/JeeYeonParkCNBC

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Business inventories, oil inventories, 30-yr bond auction, Microsoft analyst meeting
THURSDAY: CPI, Empire state mfg survey, jobless claims, current account, industrial production, Philadelphia Fed survey, credit card default rates reported; Earnings from Pier 1, Research In Motion
FRIDAY: Treasury international capital, consumer sentiment, quadruple witching

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