RTTNews - With resource stocks likely to lead the way higher, the U.S. stock markets are indicating a strong open on Wednesday. The major index futures are currently posting significant gains, with the Dow futures up 80 points.
The upward momentum comes as resource stocks are likely to move higher along with commodities prices, with the price of oil climbing more firmly above the $70 a barrel level ahead of the release of the weekly oil inventories report.
On the economic front, traders are digesting a report from the Commerce Department showing that the U.S. trade deficit for the month of April came in modestly wider than in March, as the value of exports fell by more than the value of imports.
The report showed that the trade deficit widened to $29.2 billion in April from a revised $28.5 billion in March. Economists had expected the deficit to widen to $29.0 billion from the $27.6 billion originally reported for the previous month.
Later in the day, trading is likely to be impacted by the Treasury Department's budget for May and the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which compiles commentary on recent economic activity in the 12 Fed districts. The reports are set to be released at 2:00 p.m. ET.
In other news, the Supreme Court has allowed the sale of Chrysler's assets to Italian automaker Fiat to move forward. In lifting a stay on the sale, the high court rejected a move by a group of plaintiffs, including three Indiana public pension organizations, to block the sale.
Both companies and the White House had warned that further delays by the Supreme Court could have led to Fiat's withdrawal from the deal.
Meanwhile, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said they've subpoenaed the Federal Reserve for documents, including e-mails to and from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, to explore the genesis of Bank of America's December purchase of Merrill Lynch.
On Thursday, the Committee will host Kenneth Lewis, former Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America, as part of a growing investigation into whether government officials pressured the bank to withhold details about the deal from investors despite ballooning losses at the brokerage firm.
Additionally, Citigroup (C) said it has finalized a definitive agreement with the U.S. government and will now launch its exchange offers for publicly held securities. Under the agreement, the government will exchange a portion of its preferred securities with a liquidation value of up to $25 billion for interim securities and warrants.
Home Depot (HD) also announced that it now expects its fiscal 2009 earnings per share from continuing operations to range between no change to a drop of 7 percent. On an adjusted basis, the company now expects earnings per share from continuing operations to see decline in the range of 20 to 26 percent.
The firm previously announced that it expected earnings per share from continuing operations in fiscal 2009 to slide by 7 percent from last year and fall 26 percent on an adjusted basis.
After being plagued by choppy trading for much of the session, stocks showed some life in afternoon trading on Tuesday, finishing largely on the upside. The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up 18 points at 1,860 and the S&P 500 rose 3 points to 942, although the Dow slipped by 1 point to 8,763.
As mentioned above, crude oil futures are rising in early commodities trading, moving up by $1.35 to $71.36 a barrel. Gold futures are also climbing, increasing $10.30 to $965.00 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar has slipped against the major European currencies. The buck slid to $1.4083 against the euro and dropped to $1.6379 against the pound. The dollar has advanced versus the yen, however, moving to 97.86 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended Wednesday's session notably higher. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose by 2.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up by 4.0 percent.
The major European markets are also seeing notable upside. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 1.9 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are rising by 1.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.
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