Stock futures surged on Wednesday, setting up Wall Street to rally in the first trading session of the new year, after U.S. lawmakers passed a bill preventing huge tax hikes and spending cuts that threatened to jeopardize economic growth.
* The House of Representatives voted for a bill, which the Senate passed on Monday, that will raise taxes on wealthy individuals and families and preserve certain benefits. Together, these measures will soften some of the blow to the U.S. economy that would have resulted without a deal to avoid a fiscal crunch.
* The vote averted immediate pain like tax hikes for almost all U.S. households, although it did nothing to resolve other political showdowns on the budget that loom in coming months. Spending cuts of $109 billion in military and domestic programs were only delayed for two months.
* S&P 500 futures rose 22 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 171 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 42.50 points.
* European shares rallied across the board at the start of the new year. Asian shares also rallied, with the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index of stocks <.MIAPJ0000PUS> gaining 2.1 percent. Japanese markets were closed on Wednesday for a holiday.
* On the macroeconomic front, the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing sector survey will be released at 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT). A Reuters survey forecasts the main index at 50.3 compared with 49.5 in November.
* Also at 10 a.m., November construction spending data will be released. A Reuters survey forecasts a 0.6 percent rise in construction spending, versus 1.4 percent in the prior month.
* U.S. stocks ended 2012 with their strongest day in more than a month, putting the S&P 500 up 13.4 percent for the year, compared with a flat performance in 2011.
* The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 166.03 points, or 1.28 percent, to end at 13,104.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 23.76 points, or 1.69 percent, to finish at 1,426.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 59.20 points, or 2.00 percent, to close at 3,019.51.
* The Dow rose 7.3 percent in 2012 and the Nasdaq climbed 15.9 percent.
(Reporting By Angela Moon; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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