Wall St set to open higher with Italy vote due

By Chuck Mikolajczak

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faced a crucial vote on public finances in parliament that could derail his center-right coalition if enough party rebels desert him. Berlusconi's closest coalition ally told him to resign.

"Maybe it is just another nail in the coffin of the entire euro crisis, slowly but surely it seems to be sort of unfolding and progress is being made."

Italian 10-year borrowing costs touched a new record of 6.71 percent on Tuesday, raising the risk that Rome's massive debt -- the second highest in Europe at 120 percent of gross domestic product -- could spiral out of control.

Greek party leaders struggled to agree on a new prime minister in hopes a unity coalition can save the country's finances and end the chaos threatening the euro. The outgoing prime minister told an emergency cabinet session a consensus decision on a new leader would be made by Tuesday night.

The European Union has asked Greece to produce a letter promising implementation on a bailout deal and have it signed by various officials.

S&P 500 futures rose 8 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 78 points while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 20.5 points.

European shares rose 1.8 percent, bouncing back from two days of losses, as some encouraging earnings news and as investors bought beaten-down stocks after losses in the past two sessions. <.EU>

An experimental antidepressant from AstraZeneca Plc <AZN.L><AZN.N> and Targacept Inc <TRGT.O> failed to meet the goal of changing a key depression rating score in the first of a series of pivotal clinical trials, a setback for both companies.

Targacept tumbled nearly 55 percent to $8.69 in premarket and U.S.-listed AstraZeneca shares <AZN.N> lost 2.6 percent to $46.11.

Activision Blizzard Inc <ATVI.O> gained 2.9 percent to $14.14 premarket as the video-game maker began selling the highly anticipated new entry in its "Call of Duty" series.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)