U.S. stock futures signal higher open; data eyed

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall
Street on Wednesday after strong gains on the previous day, with
futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research), for the Dow Jones (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research) and for
the Nasdaq 100 (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) up 0.4 to 0.6 percent.

* Automatic Data Processing (ADP) is set to release its
March employment report at 1215 GMT. Economists in a Reuters
survey expect 203,000 jobs were created in March versus 217,000
new jobs in February. The figures will give an indication about
Friday’s widely watched nonfarm payroll numbers.

* The Mortgage Bankers Association will release the Weekly
Mortgage Market Index for the week ended March 25 at 1100 GMT.
The mortgage market index read 524.4 and the refinancing index
was 2,471.2 in the previous week.

* U.S. chemicals company DuPont (DD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) extended its $6
billion takeover bid for Denmark’s Danisco (DCO.CO: Quote, Profile, Research) by four
weeks and said shareholders of 6 percent of Danisco’s stock had
accepted the offer. [ID:nLDE72T0BE]

* Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc will release its report
on job cuts for March at 1130 GMT. Challenger reported 50,702
layoffs in the previous month.

* Family Dollar’s (FDO.N: Quote, Profile, Research) quarterly earnings report will
show how well the company did in keeping shoppers coming back to
its nearly 6,900 stores.

* TIBCO Software Inc (TIBX.O: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 7.2 percent after the
bell on Tuesday as its first quarter results and outlook failed
to impress investors.

* Japan upgraded its safety standards for nuclear power
plants, the first official acknowledgement that norms were
insufficient when an earthquake wrecked one of its facilities,
triggering the world’s worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in
1986. [ID:nL3E7ET2NA]

* Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research) and Honda Motor Corp (7267.T: Quote, Profile, Research)
took fresh steps to scale back production or reduce orders of
some parts in North America as supplies remain disrupted after
the March 11 Japan earthquake. [ID:nN29258412]

* Brent crude was steady near $115 on Wednesday, after
falling as much as 0.6 percent on indications that higher fuel
prices were weighing on consumer confidence in top user the
United States, where crude inventories rose more than expected
last week.

* European shares hit a three-week high on Wednesday, with
the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of top shares
rising 0.9 percent.

* Japan’s Nikkei stock average (.N225: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 2.6 percent,
hitting its highest since a post-quake panic sell-off, as the
yen softened against the dollar, but investors said the gains
may be short-lived as bargain hunting by foreigners winds down.

* On Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) and
the Standard & Poor’s 500 (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) both rose 0.7 percent, while
the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) added 1 percent.
(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Hans Peters)

U.S. stock futures signal higher open; data eyed