US futures rise as tensions in Ukraine, Iraq wane

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WallStreet1234 REUTERS The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

New York - US stock index futures rose on Wednesday amid a perceived easing of tensions in both Ukraine and Iraq, which pushed investors to seek bargains.

* Wall Street has struggled for direction of late, notching both steep losses and solid gains - often on low trading volume - with equities largely moving on the news flow from abroad.

Investors have been concerned in recent weeks about the potential fallout of a protracted conflict or escalation of crises in Ukraine, the Gaza Strip or Iraq.

* In Ukraine, Poland's foreign minister said the threat of Russia invading Ukraine had receded amid reports an aid convoy that Moscow is sending to eastern Ukraine would cross the border under the aegis of the Red Cross.

Western officials had been wary of the convoy, speculating it may be a cover for invasion.

* Russia's dollar-denominated RTS index jumped about 1 percent and the Market Vectors Russia Exchange-Traded Fund was up 0.9 percent to $24.22 (R257) in premarket trading.

* Investors also continued to monitor the situation in Iraq, where the country's new prime minister-designate won endorsements from both the United States and Iran, as well as Shi'ite militia and army commanders long loyal to Nuri al-Maliki, the previous prime minister, who has refused to step aside.

The support of the army commanders may signal a lower likelihood the country would further descend into violence.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 9.5 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 e-mini futures rose 69 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 19.75 points.

* Based on its Tuesday close, the S&P 500 is 2.7 percent away from a record close reached late July, suggesting some market participants may be finding value in the market.

Earnings season has boosted the market this quarter, with more companies than usual topping expectations for both profit and revenue, according to Thomson Reuters data.

* Macy's Inc is on tap to report Wednesday morning, with Cisco Systems due out after the market closes.

Investors are also looking ahead to data on July retail sales, seen rising 0.2 percent, which is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (14:30 SA time).

* Deere & Co dipped 0.8 percent in premarket trading after the company gave a full-year outlook, though it also reported third-quarter sales that topped expectations.

* Inc rose 1.8 percent to $324.99 in premarket trading after the online retailer unveiled a $10 credit-card reader and mobile app for brick-and-mortar businesses, marking its latest step to expand its presence in the physical world.

Shares of eBay Inc dipped 0.9 percent to $52.95. - Reuters

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