U.S. stock index futures trade slightly higher

U.S. stock index futures trade slightly higher

Last Updated: Thu, Sep 20, 2012 13:39 hrs

LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a moderately higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes up 0.3, and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.4 percent at 0807 GMT.

* Japan's Nikkei share average hit a four-month closing high on Wednesday after Tokyo's central bank eased monetary policy to bolster an economy struggling with sluggish global demand and fallout from a dispute with China.

* The Bank of Japan's move, which follows recent monetary stimulus plans by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, also boosted oil and copper futures.

* European shares rose although gains were capped by uncertainty over whether Spain would apply for a sovereign bailout, which the country has to do before the ECB can intervene in the bond markets to tame government borrowing costs.

* The U.S. Commerce Dept. releases housing starts and permits for August at 1230 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 765,000 annualized rate versus 746,000 in July. A total of 796,000 permits are expected in August compared with 811,000 in the prior month.

* Existing home sales for August, due at 1400 GMT, were expected to come in at 4.55 million units on an annualised basis, versus 4.47 million in July.

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc has named senior trading executive Harvey Schwartz to replace David Viniar as chief financial officer, the latest in a series of executive shuffles as the investment bank prepares for a change in top management.

* Shareholders of News Corp will make their case in a U.S. court on Wednesday for holding its board responsible for phone hacking scandals that cost the company a major newspaper and a deal for full control of the BSkyB satellite business.

* Microsoft Corp raised its dividend by 15 percent on Tuesday, marking a slowdown in the growth in payouts to investors after a year marked by a downturn in computer sales and a large write-off for a failed acquisition.

* Blackstone Group LP is nearing an agreement to buy home security provider Vivint, according to three people familiar with the matter, in a deal expected to value the company at as much as $2 billion. An announcement could come as early as Wednesday, according to a separate source familiar with the matter.

* Northrop Grumman and AgustaWestland, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica SpA, said on Tuesday they were joining forces to compete for the new U.S. Air Force Combat Rescue helicopter and the U.S. Navy's new "Marine One" presidential helicopter.

* Software designer Adobe reports third-quarter results, expected to show earnings per share rise to $0.58 from $0.55 one year ago. The company also updates investors on the progress it is making in persuading customers to buy its software via subscription.

* The Dow Jones industrial average gained 11.54 points, or 0.09 percent, to end at 13,564.64 and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dipped 1.87 points, or 0.13 percent, to finish at 1,459.32.

* The Nasdaq Composite Index edged down 0.87 of a point, or 0.03 percent, to end at 3,177.80, weighed down by Advanced Micro Devices Inc, which tumbled 9.7 percent.

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