Futures edge higher as oil holds steady

By @ibtimes on

Stock index futures edged higher on Wednesday as oil prices held steady after an OPEC official said the group saw no need for a meeting to discuss raising output even as turmoil in Libya continued.

Brent crude gained 0.8 percent to $113.95 a barrel while U.S. oil futures were flat at $105.08.

Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi surrounded rebels in the western city of Zawiyah with tanks and snipers in the main square, witnesses said.

The 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries believes supply is adequate, according to the official, after the group held discussions about rising prices and the loss of Libyan supplies.

The whole Libya Gaddafi situation is important. Is it spreading? Is today just going to be steady as she goes? said Kim Caughey Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

Whether or not it impacts their real bottom line, people are going to pull back in discretionary spending, and that could impact the economy. That is why Wall Street rightly focuses on the price of oil.

S&P 500 futures gained 2.3 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 26 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 1.75 points.

Wednesday marks the two-year anniversary of the bull market run from a 12-year S&P closing low of 676.53 sparked by the financial crisis.

Texas Instruments Inc issued a current-quarter earnings target slightly below estimates, blaming weaker-than-expected demand for chips used in personal computers.

Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd climbed 3.7 percent to $9.33 in premarket trade a day after the world's top solar panel maker posted sharply higher quarterly earnings and reiterated its 2011 revenue and earnings outlook, which were above estimates.

HCA, the biggest U.S. for-profit hospital chain, plans to go public on Wednesday and could raise up to $3.7 billion. Analysts expect strong demand, even though its private equity owners saddled it with massive debt.

Finisar Corp tumbled 38.5 percent to $24.61 after the network equipment maker forecast a dismal fourth quarter, blaming an inventory pile-up by telecommunications equipment makers in China.

In a light session for economic data, investors will watch U.S. wholesale inventories for January at 10 a.m. EST.

Portugal successfully sold two-year bonds, but the cost of borrowing was the most expensive since it joined the euro, keeping alive concerns it will need an international bailout.

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