Futures Rise Ahead of Fed Minutes


Stock index futures pointed to a mostly higher open Wednesday as investors looked for insight on the Federal Reserve's recovery strategy and Bank of America moved to boost capital.

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  • Dow and S&P 500 futures were indicating modest gains, but the Nasdaq tech barometer was slightly below fair market value.

    Banks accounted for much of the positive feeling for the morning.

    After the bell Tuesday, Bank of Americapriced 825 million shares at $10 each, sources familiar with the offering told CNBC. The company is scrambling for cash after the government’s stress tests found it short by some $33.9 billion.

    Its shares initially dropped in extended hours, but were more than 6 percent higher in pre-market trading.

    Hewlett-Packard weighed on tech sentiment after the company on Tuesday posted a profit below last year's and CEO Mark Hurd warned that the industry remained mired in a slump. H-P shares fell 3.8 percent premarket.

    Asian stocks edged higher, but without much conviction. Many investors feared the region’s recent rally was faltering. European stocks also tried to extend their recent rise. 

    Meanwhile the CBOE Volatility Index, which is a closely watched gauge of investor fear, finished Tuesday below 30 for the first time since September. Extremely high levels of volatility have been the norm since the credit crisis hit the markets.

    “These green shoots as people have talked about could see the S&P get to 1,000 (points) or maybe 1,050 (over the summer) … the risk rally can continue,” Benjamin Pedley, managing director, investment strategist from LGT Investment Management, told CNBC.

    Investors will look to minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting for clues on Fed policy over interest rates and quantitative easing. The minutes will be released at 2 pm New York time.

    Investors will also be watching the Congressional testimony from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who will speak before a Senate panel on oversight of the TARP program. 

    Before the bell earnings will also be in focus as Target, Deere and BJ's Wholesale are all due to report numbers. Toll Brothers reported preliminary revenue of around $398.3 million for the second quarter and an order backlog of about $944.3 million.

    On the economic front, weekly mortgage application figures will be out and weekly US oil inventories will also be released.