Wall Street stocks are set for a muted start to Wednesday trade as investors consolidate positions after the push to four-month highs, with crude oil trading at $64 a barrel helping ease inflation concerns.

Ford will be in the spotlight after reports it is set to announce a massive corporate restructuring, while Lehman Brothers will be closely watched when it releases its quarterly earnings.

The market looks good value and sentiment's not too bad either, there are the makings of a reasonably market run, said Jonathan Monk, fund manager at Aerion Fund Management.

Clearly there has been a bit of a slowdown, and you can't help wondering whether some numbers have got to come back. We're heading into confession season, so you're going to see some profit warnings, and that might unsettle the market.

By 1012 GMT, U.S. stock futures were pointing to opening flat to up 0.1 percent for the three main indexes.

U.S. stocks rose the most in about a month on Tuesday, led by retail shares such as Home Depot Inc. as investors bet falling crude oil prices will boost consumer spending and lift corporate profits while easing inflation.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.9 percent, to end at 11,498.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 1.04 percent while the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 2 percent.

On the economic calendar, U.S. weekly jobless claims are due for release at 1230 GMT, alongside August retail sales. Business inventory data for July is due for release at 1400 GMT.

Crude oil hovered around $64 a barrel, close to six-month lows, as traders awaited the debate among members of the U.N. nuclear watchdog over Iran's nuclear activities.

(The oil price) is having a big impact, you only have to look at the consumer and airline stocks over the past week or so. People are less concerned about inflation, said Monk.

You could paint quite a rosy scenario. You've got an economy which is slowing but not imploding, you've got a Fed which is done and a market on a reasonable valuation.


In corporate news, Ford is set to unveil a massive corporate restructuring that will lower white-collar costs by 30 percent and include cutting jobs and benefits, according to the online version of The Wall Street Journal.

The move, which the Journal said will be announced at Ford's board of directors meetings, will also include a new pricing strategy. Lehman is poised to dominate attention when it reports at 1200 GMT, a day after its rival Goldman Sachs said its third-quarter profit fell less than expected as strong investment banking results helped offset a summer slump.

Lehman Brothers posts its results today and profits are expected to drop by 1 percent, but fixed interest and foreign exchange prowess could again surprise the market place, said David Buik from Cantor Index, in a note.

Bear Stearns and Morgan Stanley are due to report later this week.

Merrill Lynch on Wednesday raised its 2006 earnings per share estimates for Goldman Sachs to $16.99 from $16.17, citing third quarter upside and lower compensation accrual in the fourth quarter.

Elsewhere, Pfizer Inc said a court in the Netherlands ruled that the basic patent covering atorvastatin - the active ingredient in Pfizer's cholesterol drug Lipitor - would be infringed by a competitor product from generics manufacturer Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.

Pfizer said the decision, which is subject to appeal, prevents Ranbaxy, India's top drug maker, from launching its drug before Lipitor's basic patent expires in November 2011.