By Peter Nurse
Investing.com — U.S. stocks are seen edging higher at the open Wednesday, building on what has been a positive start to the year as investors await more corporate earnings and key inflation data.
At 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was up 60 points, or 0.2%, S&P 500 Futures traded 8 points, or 0.2% higher, and Nasdaq 100 Futures climbed 16 points, or 0.2%.
The three main indices closed higher Tuesday, with the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining almost 190 points, or 0.6%, the broad-based S&P 500 rising 0.7%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbing 1% higher, its first three-day winning streak since November.
Wall Street has generally seen gains at the start of the new year with investors expecting the Federal Reserve to slow the pace of its interest rate hikes–seeing a 25-basis-point U.S. rate hike next, down from 50 basis points in December–in an attempt to bring down inflation without tipping the U.S. economy into a deep recession.
That said, many investors are still cautious ahead of earnings season as inflation could remain sticky, prompting further rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.
The Fed’s next decision on interest rates won’t come until early February, but the December consumer price index, due for release on Thursday, will show how effective the central bank’s actions have been in quashing inflation so far.
The headline CPI figure is expected to rise 6.5% in December from the year earlier, compared with 7.1% the month before, while prices are expected to rise 0.1% for the month, unchanged from last month.
In the corporate sector, the main airline stocks are likely to be in focus Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights due to a major system failure.
Quarterly earnings are also due from home builder KB Home (NYSE:KBH), while Ares Management (NYSE:ARES) said it raised about $5 billion for an infrastructure debt fund that invests in the debt of infrastructure assets such as data centers, telecommunication towers, ports, and utilities.
Oil prices edged higher Wednesday, boosted by the general risk-on appetite even after a sharp increase in U.S. crude and fuel inventories reignited demand worries at the world’s largest consumer.
The official inventory data is due from the U.S. Energy Information Administration later Wednesday, and traders will be looking for confirmation of this surprising jump of almost 15 million barrels last week, as detailed by the industry group American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday.
This came in instead of the expected small draw, while there appeared to be a negligible release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and jet fuel, also rose by about 1.1 million barrels.
By 07:00 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.3% higher at $75.33 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.5% to $80.49.
Additionally, gold futures rose 0.6% to $1,887.10/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.0747.