NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were suggesting Wall Street would open higher Wednesday on hopes that lawmakers in Washington were closing in on a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff before Jan. 1, when automatic tax hikes and government spending cuts are to go into effect if an agreement isn't reached.

European stocks were rising while Asian shares ended Wednesday's session with strong gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 2.4% to close at 10,160.40, the first time the index has closed above 10,000 since April 3.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes housing starts and permits for November at 8:30 a.m. EST. Economists surveyed by Reuters forecast 873,000 housing starts in November versus 894,000 in October, and building permits in November of 875,000 compared with 868,000 in the previous month.

U.S. stocks on Tuesday soared as signs of progress on the "fiscal cliff" talks and improving homebuilder confidence lifted investors' spirits.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 116 points, or 0.87%, to end Tuesday's session at 13,351.

UBS ( UBS - Get Report), the Swiss bank, admitted to fraud, agreeing Wednesday to pay about $1.5 billion in fines in the Libor rate-rigging scandal.

Oracle ( ORCL - Get Report) reported fiscal second-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street estimates, thanks in part to new software licenses and cloud software subscriptions revenue, which rose 17% from a year earlier.

Getco will buy Knight Capital Group ( KCG) for about $2 billion after sweetening its offer for the market-maker, Reuters reported, citing people close to the deal.

Getco clinched the deal, which values Knight at $3.75 a share, over rival Virtu Financial.

The earnings calendar Wednesday includes results from shipping giant FedEx ( FDX - Get Report), Cheerios maker General Mills ( GIS) and Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY - Get Report).

SPX ( SPW) is close to buying rival Gardner Denver ( GDI - Get Report) for about $4.2 billion, as it makes progress in securing financing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Pfizer ( PFE - Get Report) has plans to cut almost 20% of its roughly 3,000-person sales force for primary-care drugs, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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