Stocks ready to roll

Futures advance as investors return from holiday weekend, helped by Wal-Mart earnings.

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NEW YORK(CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were poised for a higher start Tuesday after the holiday break, as investors were buoyed by strong quarterly results from retailing giant Wal-Mart.

Less than two hours before the start of trading, Nasdaq and S&P futures were higher, indicating opening gains for Wall Street. U.S. markets were closed Monday for Presidents Day.

Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), the world's largest retailer, reported a 4% rise in net income that met Wall Street's estimates. The retailer also posted more than $100 billion in sales during the fourth quarter. However, Wal-Mart was cautious about the future, offering up an earnings forecast in a range mostly below consensus estimates.

Other stocks to watch include MBIA Inc (MBI), whose Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Dunton is stepping down. Former Chairman and CEO Joseph "Jay" Brown, 59, who retired from the firm last May, will take the helm of the beleaguerd bond insurer. Shares were up in pre-market trading.

Another troubled bond insurer, Ambac (ABK), is discussing a plan to raise $2 billion in capital to protect is sterling triple-A rating, according to the Wall Street Journal. Shares were trading lower before the markets opened.

Both MBIA and Ambac have come under attack by credit agencies threatening to cut their 'AAA' ratings over concerns that the bond insurers may not be able to pay claims on mortgage-backed securities.

The union representing pilots at Delta (DAL, Fortune 500) and Northwest (NWA, Fortune 500) have agreed to a deal to consolidate membership under a merged carrier, the Detroit News reported. The move removes a major hurdle to a merger of the two airlines.

On the earnings front, a number of companies are scheduled to report after the bell, including Dow component Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500).

Oil prices climbed Tuesday on speculation that OPEC may cut production levels sometime next month to support prices. Light, sweet crude for March gained $2.10 to $97.60 a barrel in electronic trade.

In global trade, Asian stocks finished the session higher. European shares, however, fell after Swiss bank Credit Suisse (CS) cut the value of its assets by $2.9 billionTo top of page

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.