US Stock Futures Signal Higher Open Ahead Of 2014 Budget Proposal, FOMC Minutes

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U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Wednesday as markets await the release of President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal and the minutes of the most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.    

Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.22 percent to 1,566.60. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 Index gained 0.32 percent to 2,806.50, while futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.22 percent to 14,642.

Investors on Wednesday will likely focus on the 2014 U.S. budget proposal, which President Barack Obama is expected to submit to Congress at 20:00 GMT. The proposal is expected to offer cuts to social security and other entitlement programs in exchange for tax hikes as Obama aims to persuade Republicans to a compromise on a deficit-reduction deal.

Investors also await the release of the minutes of the FOMC meeting that was held on Mar. 19-20 at 18:00 GMT. Investors will watch out if Fed officials are considering scaling down bond purchases, as a surprisingly weak report on the U.S. employment since the last meeting carries a potential to retard any signal the minutes may send.

Investors are also expected to focus on the U.S. corporate earnings reports that will be announced on Wednesday.   

Corporations including Apogee Enterprises Inc. (NASDAQ:APOG), Bed, Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY), CarMax Inc. (NYSE:KMX), Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE:FDO), Fastenal Co. (NASDAQ:FAST), The Progressive Co. (NYSE:PGR) and Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ:TITN) will report their quarterly earnings on Apr. 10.

U.S. stocks pushed higher on Tuesday as the Dow Jones witnessed a new record closing-high. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 59.98 points, or 0.4 percent, to 14673.46, while the Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 15.61 points, or 0.5 percent to 3237.86. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index added 5.54 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1568.61, marking its first two-session streak of gains since mid-March.

European stocks gained in the opening minutes of trading on Wednesday on news that U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew concluded a visit to the troubled euro zone. During his tour, Lew met with the finance ministers of France and Germany and urged the countries to adopt a balanced approach toward growth and fiscal consolidation. 

London's FTSE 100 gained 0.1 percent in the first few hours of trading, France's CAC-40 was up 0.5 percent and Germany's DAX Index was up 0.4 percent.

Earlier, tracking Wall Street gains, Asian markets surged on news of positive China import growth, which showed that domestic demand in the world’s second largest economy was picking up slowly.

The gain in imports, which had fallen more than 15 percent in February, exceeded the 6.1 percent gain forecast by Dow Jones Newswires and the 5.2 percent gain predicted by Reuters’ survey of economists.

China's export data for March revealed a 10.8 percent year-on-year increase in exports, less than Dow Jones’ estimate of a 12 percent increase and well below the almost 22 percent gain posted in February. China also registered a surprise $884 million trade deficit for March, indicating that the global economy is recovering, albeit at an uneven pace.   

The Nikkei closed at 13,288.13, up 0.73 percent. South Korea's KOSPI gained 0.77 percent to 1935.58, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.75 percent to 22034.56, and China's Shanghai Composite index advanced 0.02 percent to 2226.13.

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