Wall Street set for higher open, on recovery hopes

* Wall Street was set to extend recent gains that have seen
key indexes hit their highest since 2008, on optimism for
economic recovery, and mergers and acquisitions activity.

* Futures for the Dow Jones (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research), S&P 500 (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) and
Nasdaq (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) were up 0.2-0.4 percent at 0843 GMT on Wednesday.
* The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of leading European
shares was down 0.3 percent at 1,141.05 points with French
utilities EDF (EDF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) and GDF Suez (GDF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) down 3.7 percent
and 1 percent respectively, extending declines from the previous
session, after the government imposed pricing restrictions.

* Gold prices rallied to record highs on Wednesday against a
backdrop of a weaker dollar and ongoing investor worries over
inflation and unrest in the Arab world, while silver touched
fresh 31-year peaks. [ID:nL9E7EL002]

* The euro rose to a 14-month high against the dollar, ahead
of an expected interest rate rise by the European Central Bank.
Traders also cited buying by Asian central banks.

* With time running short, U.S. President Barack Obama
failed on Tuesday to break a deadlock in budget talks between
his Democrats and Republicans that threatens a partial shutdown
of the U.S. government.

* On Tuesday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research), Dow
Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) and Nasdaq Composite Index
(.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) ended little changed. The S&P 500 failed to break a key
technical resistance level for a second day as low trading
volume raised further questions about the market’s strength.

* Divisions at the U.S. Federal Reserve over how soon to
reverse course on monetary policy emerged more clearly last
month, although the central bank appeared intent to complete a
$600 billion bond-buying plan. A few officials at the Fed’s
March 15 policy-setting meeting thought a stronger economy could
warrant tightening monetary conditions this year.
(Reporting by Brian Gorman; Editing by Dan Lalor)

Wall Street set for higher open, on recovery hopes