After closing lower in the two previous sessions, stocks may regain some ground in early trading on Wednesday. The major index futures are currently indicating a modestly higher open for the markets after moving moderately lower earlier in the morning.
The turnaround by the futures was partly due to news that homebuilder Pulte Homes (PHM) has agreed to acquire rival Centex Corp. (CTX) in a stock-for-stock deal valued at $1.3 billion that will create the nation's largest homebuilding company.
Under the terms of the agreement, Centex shareholders will receive 0.975 shares of Pulte common stock for each share of Centex they own. Based on Pulte's closing price on Tuesday, the deal values Centex at $10.50 per share, a 38 percent premium to Centex's closing price.
Nonetheless, buying interest may be somewhat subdued, as traders continue to express concerns about the outlook for the impending earnings reporting season.
After the close of trading on Tuesday, Dow component Alcoa (AA) reported a $497 million net loss for the first quarter, hurt by the impact of the economic downturn on its core industrial and commercial markets as well as an historic decline in aluminum prices.
The aluminum producer quarterly loss per share also came in worse than what analysts had predicted.
However, while Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) also said its fourth quarter profit declined from last year, hurt by worsening economic conditions, the home furnishings retailer's quarterly earnings exceeded analysts' expectations as well as its own estimates.
Following the news, shares of Bed Bath & Beyond are up more than 13 percent in pre-market trading.
On the economic front, the Commerce Department is due to release its wholesale inventories report at 10 AM ET. Economists expect wholesale inventories at the end of February to show a 0.6 percent decline.
Additionally, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of the latest policy-setting meeting at 2 pm ET.
After ending Monday's trading mostly lower, stocks saw some further downside during trading on Tuesday. The major averages all ended the day firmly in negative territory, pulling back further off their recent highs, as traders continued to do some profit taking.
Stocks showed a notable decline in early trading but moved roughly sideways before seeing some further downside in the early afternoon. The Dow eventually ended the day down more than 180 points, moving well off the nearly two-month closing high it set last Friday.
Crude oil futures are falling $1.14 to $48.01 a barrel after the commodity fell $1.90 to $49.15 a barrel in Tuesday's session. On the other hand, gold futures are rising $1.10 to 884.40 an ounce. In the previous session, the commodity rose $10.50 to $883.30 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 100.165 yen compared to the 100.4199 yen it fetched at Tuesday's close in New York. The greenback is currently valued at $1.3256 versus the euro.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed mostly lower on Wednesday following the weakness seen on Wall Street overnight. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index showed a notable decline, closing down 2.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned higher after seeing some weakness earlier in the session. While the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both up 0.7 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is currently just above the unchanged line.
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