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Futures edge higher as Wall Street tries to build on strong gains

  • Fed Chair Janet Yellen is expected to testify on the outlook of the U.S. economy before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open Wednesday, as Wall Street looked to build on a strong performance from the previous session.

Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 75 points, while S&P 500 futures gained 1.75 points. Nasdaq 100 futures traded flat.

In the previous session, U.S. stocks closed at record highs, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing 255.93 points higher at 23,836.71. Equities were boosted after news emerged that the Senate took a step towards passing a bill aimed at reforming the U.S. tax code.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

On Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee approved the Senate's tax plan, bringing the upper chamber closer to a floor vote. This vote is slated to occur Thursday. Investors have been eagerly awaiting tax reform since the election in 2016, yet doubts over whether the Republican-led Congress could achieve this before the year is out continues to weigh on sentiment.

Stocks briefly pared gains on Tuesday after North Korea fired a missile that landed into the Sea of Japan — an intercontinental ballistic missile that state media said was capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. President Donald Trump responded to the news, stating that they would "take care of it."

On the data front, weekly mortgage applications fell 3.1 percent, while the second read on third-quarter GDP showed the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.3 percent.

The pending homes sales index is due to be released at 10 a.m. ET, while the U.S. central bank's Beige Book is expected at 2 p.m. ET.

Speaking of the U.S. Federal Reserve, current Fed Chair Janet Yellen is expected to testify on the outlook of the U.S. economy before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Fed President John Williams will be speaking at the 54th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon, set to take place in Phoenix, Arizona. New York Fed President William Dudley will be in New Brunswick, participating in a fireside chat.

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Fed Chair nominee Jerome Powell had a confirmation hearing on Tuesday, where he said that he favors "tailoring" regulations in order to alleviate the burden on smaller banks.

Looking to markets in other regions, trade in Europe ticked higher in early trade Tuesday, while markets in Asia finished the session mostly higher. Oil prices meantime were trading in the red.

—CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report