Wall Street futures signal higher opening

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall
Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research), the Dow
Jones (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research) and the Nasdaq 100 (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) up 0.3-0.4 percent.

* The Commerce Department releases wholesale inventories for
February at 1400 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast
inventories to rise 1.0 percent, a repeat of the January
increase.

* Facing a midnight deadline, the White House and Congress
were working furiously on Friday to break a U.S. budget deadlock
and avoid a government shutdown, after President Barack Obama
and congressional leaders failed to reach a deal in late-night
talks. [ID:nN08144565]

* At 1430 GMT, Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI)
releases its weekly index of economic activity for April 1. In
the prior week the index read 130.0.

* Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) has bought a 12 percent stake worth
more than $900 million in China’s Taikang Life Insurance Co Ltd,
giving the Wall Street giant a foothold into the world’s biggest
insurance market. [ID:nL3E7F805A]

* Resource-related stocks will be in focus after copper
(CMCU3: Quote, Profile, Research) rose more than 1 percent on hopes of improving demand
for raw materials and crude prices (LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 1 percent to a
fresh 32-month high on supply cuts in Libya. Gold (XAU=: Quote, Profile, Research) hit a
record high and silver (XAG=: Quote, Profile, Research) rose to its strongest in 31 years.

* Euro zone finance ministers will discuss Portugal’s
bailout plea on Friday, including how much it needs and what
reforms it could apply in return, but no firm decisions are
likely yet, euro zone sources said. [ID:nLDE7362AR]

* The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of top European shares
rose 0.6 percent as the European Central Bank’s decision to
raise interest rates on Thursday helped fuel optimism over the
health of the euro zone economy.

* Japan’s Nikkei average (.N225: Quote, Profile, Research) jumped 1.9 percent to close
on Friday at the highest level since the March 11 earthquake as
a 24 percent gain in Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T: Quote, Profile, Research), the
operator of a stricken nuclear plant, became a factor in
encouraging active short-covering.

* On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) was
down 17.26 points, or 0.14 percent, at 12,409.49. The Standard &
Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) was down 2.03 points, or 0.15 percent,
at 1,333.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) was down 3.68
points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,796.14.
(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Hans Peters)

Wall Street futures signal higher opening