* West holds off on more severe sanctions against Russia
* Facebook buys Oculus for $2 bln, shares up in premarket
* U.S. unemployment to fall below 6 pct in 2014 -Bullard
* Futures up: Dow 70 pts, S&P 5.7 pts, Nasdaq 9.25 pts
(Adds durable goods data)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 26 U.S. stock index futures
pointed to a higher open on Wall Street Wednesday as
geopolitical tensions eased after Western powers agreed to hold
off on more damaging economic sanctions against Russia unless it
went beyond its seizure of Crimea.
* Futures were supported by durable goods data, which rose
more than expected in February, ending two straight months of
declines. The report followed other positive reads on the
economy that ended weakness earlier this year related to bad
weather rather than worsening fundamentals.
* Tensions between the United States and Russia have been a
major market focus in recent sessions, although the issue has
not translated to protracted market losses. Investors have been
concerned about the economic fallout of any escalation in the
biggest East-West conflict since the Cold War, though few U.S.
companies have direct exposure to the region.
* U.S. President Barack Obama said Russian forces would not
be removed militarily from Crimea, although the international
community still didn't recognize Russia's annexation of the
region. Moscow said it was keen to maintain contact with G8
* Facebook Inc said late Tuesday it would buy Oculus
VR Inc, a maker of virtual-reality glasses for gaming, for $2
billion. The acquisition follows Facebook's $19 billion deal to
buy WhatsApp in February. Shares of the social networking giant
were slightly lower in premarket trading.
* S&P 500 futures rose 5.7 points and were above fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 70
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9.25 points.
* James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of
St. Louis, said the outlook for the U.S. economy was "quite
good," and that he expected the unemployment rate to fall below
6 percent this year.
* Toyota Motor Corp will buy back up to 1.89
percent of its shares worth up to $3.5 billion in the
automaker's biggest buyback in more than a decade. U.S. shares
of the company rose 2.6 percent to $111.25 before the bell.
* Mobile game maker King Digital Entertainment Plc
late Tuesday priced its initial public offering at the mid-point
of its expected range, valuing the "Candy Crush Saga" maker at
about $7.1 billion despite questions over whether it can
replicate the success of its smartphone smash-hit. King priced
its IPO at $22.50 a share, and the stock is set to debut on the
New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
* Clothing company PVH Corp, which owns such brands
as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, late Tuesday issued an
adjusted full-year profit forecast that was above expectations.
Shares rose 2.5 percent to $120.14 in light premarket trading.
* Insmed Inc fell 15 percent to $15.50 in premarket
trading after the company said its only experimental drug failed
to meet the main goal of a mid-stage trial on patients with a
form of bacterial lung infection.
* Investors are looking ahead to the March reading on the
U.S. services sector from financial data firm Markit, which is
on tap for release after the market opens.
* In China, a series of weak economic reports have raised
expectations of additional monetary stimulus, though analysts
noted there was limited scope for this.
* Shares in Europe and Asia rose, boosted by the prospect of
more accommodative monetary policies from central banks.
European Central Bank governing council member Jens Weidmann
said Tuesday the ECB was not ruling out buying loans and other
assets from banks to support the euro zone.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)