* Futures up: Dow 96 pts, S&P 12.75 pts, Nasdaq 29 pts
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Feb 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Wednesday, setting the stage for a third straight day of gains, as oil prices rose and investors snatched up beaten-down shares.
* Wall Street closed with solid gains on Tuesday, with the benchmark S&P 500 rallying to its best two-day gain since late August.
* Still, the S&P 500 has fallen 7.3 percent this year due to slumping oil prices, fears of a China-led slowdown in global growth and uncertainty over central bank policies.
* Investors will watch oil as a barometer of broader market sentiment on Wednesday, in particular how a proposal from top exporters Russia and Saudi Arabia to freeze output is greeted by Iran, which is determined to raise production. Brent crude oil prices was up 2.7 percent.
* Investors will parse the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's January meeting - due at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) - for an insight into the central bank's view on the effects of the global market turmoil on the U.S. economy and monetary policy.
* Fed Chair Janet Yellen has maintained that the central bank is still likely to raise rates this year. However, traders have all but given up on further rate hikes this year, with Fed funds futures suggesting an increase in February 2017.
* Shares of Kinder Morgan rose 8.5 percent to $16.95 premarket after Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a stake in the pipeline operator.
* Fossil jumped 14 percent to $39.30 after the watchmaker's quarterly results beat estimates.
* Priceline increased 7.6 percent to $1,195 after the travel websites operator's quarterly profit beat expectations.
* Economic data due on Wednesday includes a report on January housing starts that is likely to show an increase to a 1.17 million-unit rate. The data is due at 8:30 a.m.
* A report on industrial production in January is expected to show output rose 0.4 percent, the first increase in four months. The data is scheduled for release at 9:15 a.m.
* St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a FOMC voting member, is slated to speak on the economy and monetary policy.
Futures snapshot at 7:05 a.m. ET:
* Dow e-minis were up 96 points, or 0.6 percent, with 40,144 contracts changing hands.
* S&P 500 e-minis were up 12.75 points, or 0.68 percent, with 239,520 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 29 points, or 0.71 percent, on volume of 35,293 contracts. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)