The Federal Reserve will meet Tuesday afternoon on interest-rate policy. The central bank already has kept its key interest rate at a record low of nearly zero since 2008. It has also pledged to keep rates low "for an extended period."
European strategists said speculation about more stimulus coming from the U.S. helped their markets recover from steep losses Tuesday.
The Fed in June completed a $600 billion program to buy Treasury bonds in support of the economy. Some Fed officials oppose another round of so-called "quantitative easing" because it could lead to higher inflation.
Dow Jones industrial average futures started the morning down more than 200 points, following Asian markets lower. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell 5.7 percent after China's inflation rose to a 37-month high in July. The drops in Asian markets continued a rout in global stocks following a 634.76 point plunge for the Dow on Monday.
But Dow futures rallied through the early morning and at one point were up more than 300 points. They then see-sawed back and forth.
Ninety minutes ahead of the New York opening, they were up 139 points, or 1.3 percent, at 10,865.
S&P 500 index futures rose 17.20, or 1.5 percent, to 1,128.50. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 31.25, or 1.5 percent, to 2,069.25. Futures don't always accurately predict how stocks will move at the opening of trading.
Worries are rising about weak economic growth in the U.S., debt problems in Europe and rising inflation in China, Brazil and other developing countries. The fears have sent investors toward investments traditionally seen as safer, such as gold.
Gold set another record and rose $42 to $1,755 per ounce. It started the year at $1,421.40.
Investors piled into Treasurys on Monday, sending the yield on the 10-year note down to 2.34 percent. That matched its lowest level for the year, reached last week. Treasurys gave back some of those gains on Tuesday, "as they shake off some of the froth," RBS Securities analysts wrote in a report. The 10-year yield rose to 2.38 percent.