U.S. stock index futures edge higher, focus on Fed

LONDON Wed Dec 12, 2012 4:22am EST

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LONDON Dec 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a fractionally higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 rising by 0.1 to 0.2 percent.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to announce a fresh round of bond buying on Wednesday as part of its efforts to support a fragile economic recovery threatened by political wrangling over the government's budget.

* Negotiations to avert the "fiscal cliff" ahead of a year-end deadline intensified as President Barack Obama and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner spoke by phone on Tuesday after exchanging new proposals.

* India's government announced an inquiry into lobbying practices by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Wednesday after a report that the giant retailer had pressed U.S. lawmakers to help gain access to foreign markets.

* Costco Wholesale Corp posted a 30 percent rise in quarterly profit, beating expectations, as the largest U.S. warehouse club chain saw sales rise and got a lift from higher membership fees.

* Chesapeake Energy Corp on Tuesday agreed to sell most of its remaining natural gas processing and gathering assets for $2.16 billion as it continues to sell assets to pay down its heavy debt load.

* Sprint Nextel Corp is in talks with Intel Corp and Comcast Corp to buy out their stakes in the U.S. wireless provider Clearwire Corp, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

* European shares steadied in early trade on Wednesday, keeping alive their sharp three-week rally as investors bet the Fed would deliver on stimulus.

* The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 78.56 points, or 0.60 percent, at 13,248.44 on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 9.29 points, or 0.65 percent, at 1,427.84 - its highest since November elections. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 35.34 points, or 1.18 percent, at 3,022.30.

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