Stock Futures Rise Amid Mixed Data, Easing Euro Fears

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U.S. stock-index futures climbed in choppy action Wednesday as traders digested a mixed durable goods report and grew more hopeful Europe's debt crisis won't flare up again.

Today's Markets

As of 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 12 points to 13871, S&P 500 futures gained 0.75 point to 1493 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 3.3 points to 2711.

Volatility is back on Wall Street. The markets were pummeled Tuesday over fears about Italy's election results, but then rebounded the following day on generally dovish commentary from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, coupled with strong economic data. The CBOE's VIX, which tracks implied volatility, is trading above its 50 and 200-day moving average.

The upbeat sentiment Wednesday began in European markets, where Italy held a successful bond auction. Rome sold $5.2 billion in 10-year debt, meeting its target. However, the yield jumped to 4.83% -- the highest the country has had to pay since October, according to Reuters. Borrowing costs for the same period moved up 0.08-percentage point on the secondary market to 4.91%.

Analysts at Barclays wrote in a note to clients that the debt sale should "reassured the markets for now." Still, the bank warns that downside risks to European risky assets -- like equities -- remains.

On the U.S. front, the Commerce Department said orders for long-lasting goods fell 5.2% in January from December, a bigger slide than the 4.4% expected. Excluding the transportation segment, durable goods orders rose 1.9%, a much larger jump than the 0.2% expected and the biggest increase since December 2011.

"Say what you will about government dysfunction, the sequester, the fiscal cliff and the budget debate but the fact remains that capital spending appears to be holding up very well," Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG wrote in an email. "In fact, it appears to be accelerating."

Later in the day, a report on pending homes sales is expected to indicate signed contracts to purchase homes rose 1.5% in January on a month-to-month basis.

Fed chief Bernanke will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives later in the day. In remarks to the Senate on Tuesday, Bernanke "made clear" he stands with Federal Open Market Committee members who wish to continue asset purchases beyond the middle of this year, according to economists at Nomura.

In commodities, oil prices inched higher. The benchmark U.S. contract gained 23 cents, or 0.21%, to $92.84 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline climbed 0.32% to $2.991 a gallon. Gold dropped $9.30, or 0.58%, to $1,606 a troy ounce.

In corporate news, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is set to hold an investor meeting on the day. Speculation the world's biggest technology company might unveil a stock split pushed shares higher in the previous session.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.52% to 2583, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.26% to 6288 and the German DAX climbed 0.26% to 7617.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 dropped 1.3% to 11253 and the Chinese Hang Seng inched up 0.25% to 22577.