Stocks: Awaiting economic data

January 8, 2014: 7:52 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Investors were on hold early Wednesday, ahead of the latest U.S. economic reports.

U.S. stock futures were slightly lower ahead of the opening bell.

Investors get a preview Wednesday of the monthly jobs report due later this week, as payroll processor ADP releases private-sector payroll data at 8:15 a.m. ET.

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its most recent policy meeting at 2 p.m., followed by its monthly report on consumer credit at 3 p.m.

Investors and traders will be keen to see what the latest set of Fed minutes show since they cover the meeting when the central bank decided to start cutting its massive economic stimulus program. Many Wall Street experts expect the stimulus program will be wrapped up by the end of 2014.

"While the new Fed policy status quo is widely known at this point, traders will be keen to read the minutes nonetheless to try to decipher precisely what variables proved pivotal in pushing the rate-setting committee into action," explained Ilya Spivak, a currency strategist at DailyFX, in a morning note.

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U.S. stocks finished higher Tuesday, with the Nasdaq and S&P logging their first gains of 2014 and marking the second-highest close in history. The Dow Jones industrial average shot up by 106 points, or 0.6%.

In corporate news, agrochemical giant Monsanto (MON) is scheduled to report quarterly results in the morning, while Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) is set to report after the bell.

Shares for The Container Store (TCS) plunged in premarket trading after the retailer reported a loss.

Shares of Ford (F) rose in after the automaker said late Tuesday that CEO Alan Mulally is not leaving the company for Microsoft (MSFT).

Micron Technology (MU) shares surged following quarterly earnings that beat expectations.

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On the international front, European markets slipped lower in morning trading.

Most Asian markets closed the session with gains. The Nikkei in Japan jumped by nearly 2% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong moved up by 1.3%.

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Dow 17,113.54 61.81 0.36%
Nasdaq 4,456.02 31.32 0.71%
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Treasuries 2.47 -0.01 -0.32%
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Apple Inc 94.72 0.78 0.83%
Microsoft Corp 44.83 -0.00 -0.01%
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Facebook Inc 69.27 -0.13 -0.19%
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