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Stock futures signal higher open; Facet eyed

(Reuters) - Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.07 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.09 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.25 percent.

Facet Biotech Corp has agreed to be acquired by Abbott Laboratories for $27 a share, topping a failed hostile offer of $17.50 a share made last year by Biogen Idec Inc . Shares of Facet traded in Frankfurt were up 55 percent.

Crude oil futures were steady, at $81.45 a barrel, as surging Chinese imports offset expectations for a gain in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Year-on-year growth in Chinese exports and imports blew past expectations in February, apparently underlining the momentum powering the world's third-largest economy.

The chief executive of Caterpillar Inc on Tuesday forecast a 3.4-percent increase in U.S. and global GDP in 2010, a forecast that is slightly higher than recent consensus estimates.

U.S. economists raised their forecast for economic growth in 2010 in March, the third straight monthly rise, while trimming their growth forecast for 2011, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

The Obama administration is weighing help for U.S. airlines to meet the costs of modernizing the air traffic control system, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Tuesday.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc said on Tuesday it will close all 28 stores in its Martin + Osa clothing chain and the chain's online business.

Navistar International Corp shares fell in extended trading on Tuesday after the truck and bus maker posted quarterly results.

Shares of InterMune Inc soared 63 percent after the bell on Tuesday after U.S. regulators backed the company's experimental drug to treat lung scarring.

On the macro front, investors awaited U.S. monthly wholesale inventories and sales.

Japan's Nikkei average ended flat on Wednesday, while European stocks were mostly unchanged in morning trade, as lingering concerns over the region's sovereign debt offset strong trade data from China.

One year to the day after stocks fell to their worst close in more than 12 years, major U.S. averages ended slightly higher on Tuesday as gains in the telecom and industrial sectors offset lower materials stocks pressured by falling commodity prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 11.86 points, or 0.11 percent, to 10,564.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> edged up 1.95 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,140.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 8.47 points, or 0.36 percent, to 2,340.68. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Hans Peters)

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