US Markets

Wall Street eyes more financial earnings, economic data


U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Wednesday, amid more first quarter financial earnings and a swathe of economic data.

Bank of America posted a first-quarter profit, swinging from a surprise loss a year earlier when it took a charge of $6 billion for litigation expenses. However, the bank saw a slight decline in its investment banking and equity and debt market businesses while JPMorgan Chase reported investment banking fees and core trading revenues were both up about 20 percent year over year.

Among the several other financial firms posting results before the bell, US Bancorp reported earnings in-line with estimates on revenue that missed. PNC Financial beat on earnings but missed on revenue. Charles Schwab also reports.

Read MoreBlast of financial earnings, oil pricing and economic reports

Delta Air Lines earned an adjusted 45 cents per share for its latest quarter, one cent above estimates, with revenue essentially in line. Delta said this represented the best March quarter in its history, although it added that the strong dollar was presenting headwinds for its international revenue.

After the bell, reports are expected from Netflix,Kinder Morgan, Universal Forest Products and Wintrust Financial.

Pedestrians walk past Bank of America Corp. signage in New York.
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Financial company earnings are expected to grow by 12 percent, in what is seen being a down quarter for the S&P 500, according to Thomson Reuters.

In other stock news, Nokia confirmed on Wednesday it would buy Franco-American Alcatel-Lucent for 15.6 billion euros ($16.6 billion), in a blockbuster deal that has been endorsed by the French government.

On the data front, industrial production for March showed a greater-than-expected decline of 0.6 percent, following a slight gain in February. Capacity utilization also came in slightly below the previous month.

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Mortgage applications decreased 2.3 percent from the prior week as interest rates ticked up slightly, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Meanwhile, the Empire Manufacturing survey showed growth in New York State unexpectedly contracted in April, weakening for a third straight month as the pace of new orders fell to a multi-year low, a New York Federal Reserve survey showed on Wednesday. The index showed a decline of 1.19 in April versus March's 6.90 read.

The latest National Association of Home Builders housing market index is due at 10:00 a.m. and the Federal Reserve's Beige Book comes at 2:00 p.m. ET . Treasury data on international capital flows is due at 4 p.m.

There will be a flurry of Fed speakers, including Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, who is part of a panel discussing macroprudential tools at 10:30 a.m., the International Monetary Fund's spring meeting.

Away from the meeting, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will speak on the U.S. economy and monetary policy and Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker will discuss investing at a business summit in South Carolina.

The oil market and the U.S. dollar could also be factors for markets, after a boost to crude prices on Tuesday gave energy stocks and the broader stock market a lift.

Brent crude oil prices rose by around 1.5 percent on Wednesday, but gains were capped by keenly-awaited data that showed Chinese economic growth slowed in the first three months of the year.

In Europe, equities continued to hold higher on Wednesday as the European Central Bank announced it would not change rates.

Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that Greece is in a very difficult situation and that no one has an idea how to get an agreement on an ambitious program for the country, Reuters reported.

He added that the new Greek government has damaged an improving economic trend in the country but he cannot see any contagion in the market from Greece troubles and that the markets have priced in all possibilities.

The problem with Greece is not its loans but its lack of competitiveness, he said.

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In other regional news, the European Union has formally filed formal charges against Google over its comparison shopping service, and said it would open a formal investigation of Google's Android operating system and whether the company uses its market power to hinder rival systems.

CNBC's Patti Domm and Peter Schacknow contributed to this report