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US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher, tracking European markets
March 21, 2017 / 1:05 PM / 9 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher, tracking European markets

* Kansas, Cleveland Fed chiefs to speak later in the day

* General Mills lower after sales miss estimates

* Nike, FedEx to report after markets close

* Futures up: Dow 10 pts, S&P 3.5 pts, Nasdaq 10.25 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)

By Tanya Agrawal

March 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks looked set to open higher on Tuesday, reversing losses from a day earlier, tracking buoyant European and Asian markets and as oil prices rebounded.

French centrist Emmanuel Macron’s performance in a television debate raised expectations that he would win the presidential election over the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, boosting sentiment across Europe, with shares edging up towards 15-month highs.

Global investors have been worried about increasing protectionism, following the Brexit vote and President Donald Trump’s election. Last week, the G20 leaders dropped a pledge to keep global trade free and open.

“U.S. equity markets are expected to open a little higher on Tuesday, tracking broad gains in Europe,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at online forex broker Oanda in London.

Investors will keep an eye on speeches by several Federal Reserve officials for clues on the path of future interest rate hikes after the central bank last week raised rates for the first time this year.

The Fed stuck to its outlook for two more hikes this year, instead of the three expected by the market.

Bank of Kansas City President Esther George and Cleveland Fed chief Loretta Mester are scheduled to speak later in the day, while Boston Fed head Eric Rosengren will release the text of his speech.

The Fed is on track to raise interest rates twice more this year and it could be more or less aggressive depending on inflation and fiscal policies from the Trump administration, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Monday.

“Investors continue to expect two more rate hikes this year, although the odds have slipped slightly since last week. That said, I still expect the Federal Reserve tightening cycle to be much more aggressive than other central banks over the next couple of years,” said Erlam.

Dow e-minis were up 10 points, or 0.05 percent, with 17,182 contracts changing hands at 8:27 a.m. ET (1227 GMT).

S&P 500 e-minis were up 3.5 points, or 0.15 percent, with 97,235 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 10.25 points, or 0.19 percent, on volume of 20,677 contracts.

Oil prices climbed on Tuesday, helped by expectations that an OPEC-led output cut would be extended beyond June but gains were pegged back by concerns about persistently high crude inventories.

Wall Street drifted lower on Monday as investors worried that Trump’s plan to cut taxes and boost the economy could take longer than previously expected.

The U.S. stock market has been on a record-setting spree since the election of Trump, but the rally has faltered in recent weeks as investors fret about a lack of clarity on his proposals to reform taxes and cut regulation.

Shares of General Mills fell 1.8 percent to $59.20 in premarket trading after the Cheerios maker’s quarterly sales missed expectations.

Apple rose 0.45 percent to $142.09 after the company unveiled a new version of its iPad tablet.

Esperion Therapeutics was up 3.1 percent at $42.50 and Nektar Therapeutics gained 3.4 percent to $22.80 after J.P. Morgan raised its price targets on the stocks.

FedEx and Dow-component Nike, which are due to report quarterly results after markets close, both edged up. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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