Wall Street looks at higher open as oil volatility, Fed remain key focus

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday, as investors remained cautious over choppiness in the oil market, while looking ahead to the Federal Reserve meeting next week.

Markets have been choppy in recent sessions, with speculation over when the U.S. central bank could next raise interest rates keeping investors on edge.

A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., July 1, 2016.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters
A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., July 1, 2016.

In recent days, several Fed officials have made their case on how the central bank should act, with Fed Governor Lael Brainard, saying on Monday that it would be wise for the Fed to keep monetary policy loose.

Goldman Sachs recently trimmed the odds of the Fed raising interest rates when it meets, noting the absence of a clear indication that the central bank’s rate-setting group was set to tighten policy.

Meanwhile, crude futures tried to recover after Tuesday’s slide on Wednesday. Prices briefly rose in early trade after data by the American Petroleum Institute showed a smaller-than-expected build in U.S. crude stockpiles.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate last stood around $44.61 per barrel, whileBrent hovered around $46.73 a barrel. Investors will now be looking ahead to 10.30 a.m. ET today, when the latest crude inventories data is expected.

Elsewhere on the data front, U.S. import prices fell 0.2 percent, more than the expected 0.1 percent drop.

When it comes to earnings, Cracker Barrel posted mixed quarterly results, with revenues beating estimates and earnings per share coming in just below expectations. Apogee Enterprises and Apigee are also expected to post results.

European stocks traded mostly higher, while Asia-Pacific indexes were mostly lower overnight. In the previous session, U.S. markets closed sharply lower.

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