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Futures Hold Gains After Fed Minutes

Wednesday, 10 Apr 2013 | 9:21 AM ET

U.S. stock index futures held modest gains across the board Wednesday after the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes and following upbeat economic news from China.

Minutes from the most recent Fed meeting suggested that a few policymakers expected to slow the pace of asset purchases by midyear and end them later this year, while several others expected to taper the rate a bit later and halt the program by year-end.

Under its current quantitative easing program, the Fed purchases $85 billion in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities each month.

In addition, policymakers were worried about increased risks due to the central bank's aggressive monetary stimulus, though most saw those dangers as "manageable" for now.

The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its latest Federal Open Markets Committee Meeting several hours earlier than planned. The minutes were inadvertently released to about 100 Congressional staffers and trade lobbyists shortly after 2pm ET Tuesday, according to a Federal Reserve spokesperson.

Among earnings, CarMax edged higher after the used cars retailer posted a 13 percent gain in earnings, but comparable sales grew at a slower pace than the previous quarter.

After the closing bell, Bed Bath & Beyond is slated to report earnings, while Chevron is expected to post its interim results. Banking giants JPMorgan and Wells Fargo are scheduled to report on Friday.

S&P 500 earnings are expected to rise just 1.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, compared to 6.2 percent in the last quarter, according to Reuters.

Negative warnings have been higher than usual in the first quarter, with 108 downward revisions for companies, compared to 23 positive revisions, the worst ratio for 12 years, said Reuters.

(Read More: Is This Quarter Going to Be the Low Point for Earnings?)

President Barack Obama will send his budget proposal to Congress on Wednesday. It's expected to include cuts to social security and other welfare programs in an effort to move closer to striking a deficit reduction deal with Republicans.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew wrapped up his visit to Europe on Tuesday, calling on his European counterparts to strike a balance between growth and austerity and to boost demand.

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