Investing.com - U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday, as comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen earlier in the week continued to support equity markets, while investors awaited the release of U.S economic reports later in the day.
Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.12% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.09% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.15% increase.
Equitiy markets remained supported after Fed Chair Yellen on Monday said that "considerable slack" still remained in the labor market and reiterated that the Fed’s commitment to economic stimulus will still be needed for some time.
Investors were eyeing upcoming U.S. data after the Institute for Supply Management on Tuesday said its index of purchasing managers rose to 53.7 last month from a reading of 53.2 in February. Analysts had expected the manufacturing PMI to increase to 54.0 in March.
The tech sector was expected to be active, after BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) announced that it will not renew its contract with T-Mobile US when it expires later this month, following a disagreement over the U.S. wireless carrier’s promotion of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)''s iPhones.
Blackberry shares were up 0.37% in after-hour trade.
The auto sector was also likely to be in focus, as Ford Motor (NYSE:F), up 0.80% in early trading, said its Russian joint venture is cutting about 950 jobs at two factories in response to the falling ruble and deteriorating demand in the country.
On Tuesday, Ford said auto sales rose 3.4% in March, above market expectations.
Separately, General Motors (NYSE:GM) CEO Mary Barra testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday regarding the automaker''s response to defective ignition switches in its cars. Shares rose 0.26% in extended trading.
The company also said auto sales increased by 4.1% last month, beating analysts'' estimates.
Elsewhere, Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) slid 0.32% in late trading, after surging over 12% on Tuesday as the FDA granted marketing clearance for the company''s da Vinci Xi Surgical System, a surgical platform designed to enable complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach.
Other stocks likely to be in focus included Monsanto (NYSE:MON), scheduled to report quarterly earnings later in the day.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.24%, France’s CAC 40 inched up 0.05%, Germany''s DAX gained 0.34%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 added 0.14%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng rose 0.34%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.04%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release the ADP report on private sector job creation, as well as data on factory orders.