US pre-open: Stocks called to open higher ahead of Biden inauguration
Wall Street futures had stocks opening higher ahead of the bell on Wednesday prior to president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration later in the day.
As of 1220 GMT, Dow Jones futures were up 0.13%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures had the indices opening 0.37% and 0.78% firmer, respectively.
The Dow closed 116.26 points higher on Tuesday, Donald Trump's last full day in the Oval Office.
Wednesday's primary focus will be Biden's inauguration as the 46th president of the United States shortly at 1700 GMT, with his speech set to focus on the need to bring the US together following the violent riot on Capitol Hill earlier in the month.
Market participants will also scour his speech for any further hints on the $1.9trn Covid-19 relief plan unveiled last week, which included calls for direct payments of $1,400 to the majority of Americans and additional unemployment benefits, as well as state and local government aid.
AvaTrade's Naeem Aslam said: "From a trading perspective, investors will like to hear the confirmation of his $1.9trn fiscal plan and what policies he will reverse from Trump's era. Another factor that could also fuel some volatility in the market is if the transition of power isn't smooth, meaning if we see chaos in the country--just like the one we saw in Washington a few weeks ago.
"One thing is for certain; when we look at America today, the country is more divided now than it was under Obama's administration. President Trump has done far more damage to the US. Trump's famous slogan "make American great again" made the US position much weaker on the global stage, and it is going to take a long time again to change the direction of the ship once again."
Turning to the Covid-19 pandemic, the US has now recorded more than 24.8m cases of the coronavirus, claiming the lives of more than 411,500 Americans in the process.
On the macro front, mortgage applications in the US fell 1.9% in the week ended 15 January, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications to refinance a home loan dropped 4.7%, but were up 87% year-on-year, while those to purchase a home rose 2.7%, and were 15% higher than a year ago.
Still to come, the National Association of Housebuilders' January housing market index will be published at 1500 GMT.
In the corporate space, Procter & Gamble shares rallied before the open after raising forecast as earnings top expectations, while stock in Netflix was also in the green after the streaming giant hit 200.0m subscribers and said it was considering share buybacks.
Bank of New York Melllon said quarterly profits had fallen on lower revenues.
UnitedHealth, Morgan Stanley and United Airlines will both post earnings throughout the course of the day.