* Investors position as earnings season starts
* Health Management shares fall after outlook
* Futures up: Dow 43 pts, S&P 4.3 pts, Nasdaq 10.25 pts
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, April 10 U.S. stock index futures rose
on Wednesday, with Wall Street set to extend gains a day after
hitting fresh record highs, buoyed by encouraging data from
China that bode well for a recovery in the world's
Economic data from China set a positive tone early in the
day as imports of key commodities rebounded in March, signaling
domestic demand was picking up and would help drive the economy.
"This is two pieces of Chinese economic data in a row that
have proven positive," said Art Hogan, managing director of
Lazard Capital Markets in New York. Data on Tuesday showed
annual consumer inflation in China cooled last month.
"With the lack of U.S. economic data ... I think this market
has got a path of least resistance to the upside in the
near-term," said Hogan.
Investors were also positioning for the start of corporate
earnings season. Among the 5 percent of S&P 500 companies that
have reported results so far, almost three-quarters have topped
expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.
But quarterly profits are expected to grow just 1.5 percent
from a year ago, down from a January estimate of 4.3 percent.
The lowered expectations could make it easier for companies
to beat analysts' estimates and propel the market further. The
Dow closed at a fresh record on Tuesday, while the broader S&P
500 is half a percentage point away from its all-time high.
While investors are cautious of what the corporate earnings
season will bring, declines in the U.S. equity market have been
taken as buying opportunities throughout this year's rally.
Family Dollar Stores reported weaker-than-expected
profit on Wednesday, sending its shares down 4.6 percent to
$57.06 in light premarket trading.
S&P 500 futures rose 4.3 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 gained 43
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 10.25 points.
Hospital operator Health Management Associates Inc
cut its outlook for 2013 earnings and revenue, citing weak
patient admissions in the first quarter of the year. The stock
slumped 13.03 percent to $10.95 in premarket
Shares of Facebook rose 2 percent to $27.11. General
Motors said on Tuesday it is running ads for a Chevrolet
car on mobile versions of Facebook, rolling back its decision to
stop advertising on the social network a year ago.
The White House proposed a budget that sharply trims the
deficit over three years by forcing millionaires to pay more in
taxes and enacting spending cuts that replace the reductions
that went into place last month. President Barack Obama is due
to release his full budget at 11:15 am EDT (1515 GMT).
Minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent rate-setting
meeting are due at 2:00 pm EDT. Investors will look for clues on
whether Fed officials were warming to the idea of scaling back
the central bank's bond purchases.