imageStock Markets11 hours ago (May 20, 2020 06:59AM ET)

(C) Reuters.

By Peter Nurse – U.S. stocks are set to open higher Wednesday, helped by strong corporate earnings, as investors continue to price in a vigorous economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic after President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary talked up the prospects for a third-quarter rebound.

At 7 AM ET (1100 GMT), S&P 500 futures traded 32 points, or 1.1%, higher, and Nasdaq futures up 99 points, or 1.1%. The Dow futures contract rose 278 points, or 1.2%.

Wall Street received a boost early Wednesday from the battered retail sector as Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) reported better-than-expected earnings, with same-store sales surging over 11%. The home improvement retailer has been trying to build out its e-commerce platform, and its efforts seem to have paid off during these times of social distancing. Lowe’s stock rose over 7% premarket.

Target (NYSE:TGT) also posted stronger online and store sales, but its stock rose only 1.0% as higher costs ate into its bottom line. The retailer reported a 64% plunge in quarterly profit.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) will also be in focus after it announced late on Tuesday it will stop selling its talc products in the U.S. and Canada amid a backdrop of ongoing legal claims that it causes cancer.

Biotech company Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), which caused the late stumble in markets on Tuesday, fell another 4.5% in premarket in the wake of a report pouring cold water on the prospects for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

The minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting will also garner attention Wednesday. In its rate statement last month, the Fed said it will keep interest rates at near-zero until officials are “confident that the economy has weathered recent events.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested Tuesday that more federal aid could well be needed to boost the economy as he testified before the Senate Banking Committee.

Elsewhere, oil futures edged higher after the American Petroleum Institute estimated late Tuesday that U.S. crude stocks fell by 4.8 million barrels last week – the first decline since March and the biggest one since January.

The U.S. government’s data on domestic supplies are due as usual at 10:30 AM ET.

At 7 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% higher at $32.16 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 1.4% to $35.13.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.6% to $1,755.80/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.0945, up 0.2%.

Stocks – U.S. Futures Higher; Lowe’s Stellar Earnings Help

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