U.S. stock index futures signal early gains

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall
Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: ) up 0.14
percent, Dow Jones (DJc1: ) futures up 0.14 percent and Nasdaq 100
(NDc1: ) futures up 0.18 percent at 0948 GMT.

* European stocks inched higher in early trade, mirroring
gains in Asia and on Wall Street and adding to their sharp
December rally, but the rise was limited by a drop in mining
shares as heavy rains disrupt Australian coal exports.

* Investors will keep an eye on the fixed income market on
Wednesday, as U.S. Treasuries prices fell broadly and some
maturities were on track for their worst monthly performance in
years after an auction of 5-year notes drew dismal demand.

* Oil steadied above $91 a barrel on Wednesday ahead of U.S.
inventory data expected to show a drawdown in crude and
distillate stocks due to severe weather in the world’s largest
oil user.

* The dollar stabilised on Wednesday after a spike in U.S.
Treasury yields helped it recover from a sharp loss against the
euro in a yo-yo session the previous day marked by thin year-end
flows.

* SAP AG (SAPG.DE: ) must pay Oracle Corp (ORCL.O: ) prejudgment
interest on a recent $1.3 billion copyright infringement
verdict, but not at the formula suggested by Oracle, according
to a judge’s ruling filed on Tuesday.

* Shares of rare earths prospectors soared on Wednesday
after China cut export quotas, threatening to reduce already
tight global supplies and risking action from the United States
at the World Trade Organization.

* Private equity company Blackstone Group (BX.N: ) has joined
the bidding for Australian shopping-center owner Centro
Properties Group’s (CNP.AX: ) asset portfolio, the Wall Street
Journal reported on Tuesday.

* Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O: ) denied Kraft Foods Inc’s (KFT.N: )
claim that the packaged food maker performed “exceptionally
well” under an agreement to sell Starbucks’ packaged coffee,
court documents showed.

* The Dow and S&P 500 rose in light trading on Tuesday,
extending December’s rally, as cold weather in the Northeast
lifted oil prices and energy shares.

* The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) was up 20.51
points, or 0.18 percent, at 11,575.54. The Standard & Poor’s 500
Index (.SPX: ) was up 0.98 point, or 0.08 percent, at 1,258.52.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was down 4.39 points, or 0.16
percent, at 2,662.88.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

U.S. stock index futures signal early gains