* China trade data better than expected
* Crude oil snaps 7-day losing streak
* Microsoft rises on Morgan Stanley upgrade
* GM gains, Ford drops on contrasting forecasts
* Futures up: Dow 126 pts, S&P 16.5 pts, Nasdaq 37.25 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Jan 13 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Wednesday, in tandem with a recovery in crude oil prices as positive Chinese trade data allayed fears about the health of the world’s second-biggest economy.
China exports fell just 1.4 percent in December, much less than the expected 8 percent drop. A 4-percent fall in imports was also much smaller than many had feared.
Crude prices were up for the first time in eight days, also helped by a surprise decline in U.S. inventories. Oil briefly fell below the widely watched $30-per-barrel level on Tuesday.
“The risk markets, near term, are still going to be paying closest attention to the price of oil,” said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment office of Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
At 8:31 a.m. ET (1331 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 126 points, or 0.77 percent, with 60,650 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 16.5 points, or 0.86 percent, with 298,400 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 37.25 points, or 0.86 percent, on volume of 49,330 contracts.
U.S. stocks closed higher on Tuesday as a late afternoon reversal in energy and biotechs helped the Nasdaq snap an eight-day losing streak.
Shares of energy companies were among the gainers premarket. Exxon and Chevron both rose about 1 percent.
Among other Dow components, Microsoft gained 2.3 percent to $54 on a Morgan Stanley upgrade, while American Express dropped 1.2 percent to $63.60 after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to “neutral”.
General Motors jumped 4 percent to $31.52 after raising its 2016 profit outlook and dividend.
However, Ford’s profit forecast missed estimates, sending its stock down 1.2 percent to $12.70.
Yum Brands rose 2 percent to $71 after it said China same-store sales grew 1 percent in December.
The U.S. Treasury Department is scheduled to release its budget report for December at 2 p.m. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)