Futures Rise as Earnings Season Kicks Off

Futures indicated a slightly higher open for Wall Street Wednesday following a major selloff the previous day and as earnings season gets into gear.

Second-quarter earnings results began with Family Dollar reporting that its earnings jumped 36 percent, representing $87.7 million or 62 cents a share. The company raised its outlook for the next quarter and the full year, and shares surged more than 8 percent in premarket trading.

Alcoa posts numbers after the bell. Investors will be focusing on the aluminum heavyweight's figures to ascertain what the second-quarter earnings round will be like.

Traders were betting on Alcoa beating expectations, with shares rising 1.3 percent premarket.

Ahead of Alcoa's results, the DJ Stoxx index showed basic resources sector was flat on the day.

European stocks fell to a 10-week low, while Tokyo stocks and oil prices each hit 6-week lows, as economic and corporate earnings jitters permeated investor's earlier optimism.

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  • Google announced late Tuesday it is developing an operating system for PCs based on its Chrome Web browser that will challenge rival Microsoft . The technology sector on the DJ Stoxx 60 index was 0.3 percent lower.

    Amgen will be a stock to watch, rising about 15 percent premarket after a drug to treat osteoporosis and bone loss met its goals in a major study.

    Defensive stocks were back in vogue with the pharmaceutical sector leading gainers on the DJ Stoxx 60 index.

    Pharma analyst Leerink Swan, in an overview of the industry, said movements in the sector would remain difficult to predict as healthcare reform looms, the economy remains in flux, and calls for deficit reduction increase.

    ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, saw its shares fall 1 percent premarket after it won European Union regulatory approval on Wednesday for its takeover of the Dutch unit of U.S. blanks maker Noble International.

    Health care stocks were among the best performers on Tuesday, as rumors spread of a compromise in the Obama administration's push for a public health insurance alternative— a compromise that investors see as less harmful to private insurers and hospital operators.

    Those stocks will be on the watch list again Wednesday, as Vice President Joseph Biden and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius make what's billed as a "major health care announcement" at 10:30 am New York time.

    Other sectors seen as defensive such as telecoms and utilities were also higher.

    Group of Eight leaders arrived in Italy to discuss the global economic downturn. Draft documents obtained by Reuters showed the debate over whether the dollar should remain the key reserve currency was played down and hopes for a climate change breakthrough had been overstated.

    But sources in the Canadian delegation told CNBC that it is too early to say whether the final release will maintain the same stance.

    The Treasury auctions another $19 billion in 10-year notes Wednesday after a successful 3-year Treasury auction the previous day. Results will be out at 1 pm New York time.

    There's not much in the way of data Wednesday. Consumer credit is reported at 3 pm New York time. Weekly oil inventory data will be released at 10:30 am, and OPEC releases its world oil outlook at 9 am.

    At 10 am tomorrow, a Congressional Committee on oversight and government reform holds a hearing that the GOP appears ready to make into an indictment of Obama's economic reforms.

    The government could unveil its plan and release names of participants in its Public Private Investment Program plan, which is designed to create a market for banks' toxic assets.

    — Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk