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Earnings front and center on Wall Street; Fed Beige Book eyed

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat to slightly higher open on Wednesday, as investors got ready to wade through another influx of earnings reports, while monitoring for news on the Federal Reserve.

trader works at the Morgan Stanley booth
Peter Foley | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Earnings are set to be front and center, as big U.S. brands are set to report. Out of the group, investors will be watching for financial news out of American Express, eBay, and Mattel. Halliburton posted mixed quarterly results, missing on revenue but beating on earnings. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley shares rose 1 percent before the bell after easily beat profits estimates.

Investors will also be paying attention to the U.S. central bank, as key Fed officials speak on Wednesday, before and after the release of its Beige Book, due out at 2 p.m. ET.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams is set to speak at a conference hosted by Rutgers University around 8:45 a.m. ET. The event is expected to explore the issues impacting opportunities for minorities and women in the financial services industry.

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan will also chime in, speaking at the Mayor's International Luncheon in Fort Worth, Texas, which takes place in the early afternoon. New York Fed President William Dudley will be at The Lotos Club discussing New York's economic history, at 7:45 p.m. ET.

Elsewhere on the data front, housing starts fell 9 percent in September. Mortgage applications rose 0.6 percent last week.

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When it comes to oil, prices climbed higher on Wednesday, boosted by falling U.S. inventories and declining output in China.

Around 8:36 a.m. ET, U.S. WTIstood around $51 per barrel, while Brenthovered around $52.30.

European stocks were under pressure, while Asia-Pacific indexes ended mostly higher overnight. In the previous session, U.S. markets closed higher.

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