U.S. stock index futures point to higher start

LONDON, April 10 Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:02am EDT

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LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones set to scale new peaks after hitting a record closing high in the previous session.

* Futures for the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 were up between 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent at 0750 GMT.

* European shares advanced, propped up by miners on hopes for an improved outlook for demand after strong Chinese import data.

* The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee issues minutes from its meeting of March 19-20 at 1800 GMT. Investors will look for clues on whether Fed officials were warming to the idea of scaling back purchases of bonds, although a surprisingly weak report on U.S. employment since then could muddy any signal the minutes might otherwise send.

* President Barack Obama releases his budget proposal at 2000 GMT, which is expected to offer cuts to social security and other entitlement programmes, as he aims to sway Republicans to compromise on a deficit-reduction deal.

* Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc made a binding offer for Life Technologies Corp on Tuesday as private equity firms raced to finalize a consortium to take the genetic testing equipment maker private, several people familiar with the matter said.

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc must face a lawsuit in which Prudential Financial Inc accused the Wall Street bank of defrauding it into buying more than $375 million of residential mortgage-backed securities it knew were unsafe.

* Hospital operator Health Management Associates Inc on Tuesday reduced its outlook for 2013 earnings and revenue, citing weak patient admissions in the first quarter of the year, and its shares sank 12 percent after hours.

* A Nevada jury awarded $500 million in punitive damages in a closely watched case against two affiliates of UnitedHealth Group stemming from a hepatitis C outbreak in the state, according to a spokeswoman for a law firm in the case.

* Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has told his German and Italian counterparts the Pentagon plans to spend about $310 million to help fund the final year of development of Lockheed Martin's MEADS missile defense system, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

* Yahoo Inc and Apple Inc have been discussing how more Yahoo services can play a prominent role on Apple's iPhone and iPad, the Wall Street Journal wrote, citing people briefed on the matter.

* Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, updates investors on its push to start growing production this year.

* The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 59.98 points, or 0.41 percent, to 14,673.46, a record closing high. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 5.54 points, or 0.35 percent, to 1,568.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 15.61 points, or 0.48 percent, to close at 3,237.86.

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