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Wall Street set to open higher as commodities gain

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Abhiram Nandakumar and Tanya Agrawal

(Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open slightly higher on Wednesday as commodity prices recovered some ground and positive economic data from Europe helped negate the impact of weak Chinese factory data.

Copper bounced from near four-week lows on Tuesday as short sellers took profits. Brent crude oil prices inched toward $50 a barrel after data showed a decline in U.S. stockpiles last week.

Shares of oil majors Exxon and Chevron were up about 0.5 percent premarket.

Concerns about China's economic health remained after data showed factory activity in the world's second-biggest economy shrank to a 6-1/2 year low in September. China's factory activity has now shrunk for seven months in a row.

"There is an element of pricing in the bad news out of China and investors are hoping that the Chinese government will increase their efforts in boosting the economy," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States is also soothing some investor concerns, he said. Xi is scheduled to speak to a number of U.S. and Chinese chief executives later on Wednesday.

"There is some credit given to him that he is acknowledging the issues facing the economy and he knows there are levers left to be pulled," Luschini said.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.75 points, or 0.14 percent, with 314,297 contracts traded at 8:35 a.m. ET (1235 GMT). Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 10 points, or 0.23 percent, on volume of 53,727 contracts. Dow e-minis were up 29 points, or 0.18 percent, with 47,554 contracts changing hands.

European shares were higher after a surprise bounce in French business activity boosted investor sentiment.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Tuesday amid a steep selloff in commodity prices and continuing investor uncertainty over when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

The Fed's decision last week to hold interest rates steady at near-zero levels has increased the uncertainty in the markets already reeling from concerns regarding slowing global growth.

The volatility in the U.S. stock market has increased since Aug. 20 as investors fretted over a China-led global economic slowdown and the looming rate hike.

Data scheduled to be released on Wednesday includes Markit's U.S. manufacturing PMI data for September at 9:45 a.m. ET (1345 GMT). The data is expected to show U.S. factory data remained steady at 53.0 compared with August.

Citrix Systems was up 4.7 percent at $75.55 after Reuters reported the cloud computing company is attempting to sell itself.

Intel was up 1.4 percent at $29.06 after Bernstein upgraded its rating on the stock to "marketperform" from "underperform".

(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)