US Markets

Dow futures briefly add 100 as oil prices rebound

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday as oil prices rose on hopes of an agreement to freeze output. Investors also awaited Thursday's European Central Bank meeting.

Dow futures briefly gained 100 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also pointed to a higher open.

After a torrid close for commodity-related stocks on Tuesday, with energy slumping around 4 percent and materials down 2 percent, Brent prices rose past $40 per barrel again early on Wednesday. U.S. crude oil futures also traded higher, above $37 a barrel.

Producers in and outside OPEC plan to meet in Moscow on March 20 to discuss an output freeze, an Iraqi oil official told state newspaper Al-Sabah.

Wednesday also marks the seventh anniversary of the bull market and the S&P 500 is up 193 percent since the close on March 9, 2009.

Brent traded at $40.28 per barrel early on Wednesday, up 63 cents or 1.6 percent from their last close and over 40 percent higher than the 2016 lows hit in January.

U.S. crude futures were at $37.02 per barrel, up 52 cents from their last settlement and also over 40 percent above February's 2016 low.

U.S. crude oil futures settled down $1.40, or 3.69 percent, at $36.50 a barrel on Tuesday in its worst daily performance since Feb. 11.

Data for Wednesday include wholesale trade at 10 a.m. ET, and U.S. government oil inventories at 10:30 a.m. The Treasury holds a 10-year note auction at 1 p.m.ET.

Earnings due for release include Box and Square after market close.

European equities traded higher on Wednesday, shrugging off the weakness in Asian stocks. Markets in Europe are now fixed on the ECB meeting Thursday, where investors hope President Mario Draghi will take action, with a possible further cut in the deposit rate, which is already in negative territory, together with a further extension of the period and quantity of asset purchases.

"Mario Draghi's credibility will be seriously damaged if the ECB does not opt for further monetary easing this week. The last time he gave strong hints that action was imminent was ahead of December's meeting, when he was unable to persuade the ECB to go along with him," said Jeremy Beckwith, director of manager research at Morningstar UK.

Asian markets were mixed Wednesday, with China shares dropping, as analysts pointed to renewed investor concerns over the mainland's economy following lower-than-expected trade data for February.

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