Stocks: Pushing cautiously onto new ground

s&p500 futurse 750a
Click the chart for more markets data.

Markets look ready to grind higher Wednesday, as investors make a cautious push into uncharted territory.

U.S. stock futures were edging up, and global markets posted gains, after the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high Tuesday.

Steady economic growth and continuing stimulus from the Federal Reserve is keeping sentiment upbeat.

April is typically the top performing month of the year, with stocks returning 1.7% on average over the past four decades, according to Schaeffer's Investment Research.

U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday as investors kicked off the second quarter with a spring in their step and took the S&P 500 to its new record. The Dow and Nasdaq also closed with gains.

Related: Fear & Greed Index

GM (GM) will be in focus again Wednesday as CEO Mary Barra returns to the Hill to answer legislators' questions regarding the automaker's ignition switch recall. Despite all the negative publicity, GM reported sales Tuesday that topped analysts' expectations. Shares of the automaker edged up slightly in premarket trading.

Shares of Stratasys (SSYS) rose in premarket trading after the 3-D printer maker announced the acquisition Tuesday of Solid Concept and Harvest Technologies, two 3-D printing services companies. Along with its 3-D printer rivals, Stratasys stock has tanked this year, though it's still up more than 50% over the last 12 months.

The US ADP employment report said 191,000 private sector jobs were added in March. The number was much higher than February's 139,000, but still below economists expectations.

Related: CNNMoney's Tech30

European markets managed narrow gains in midday trading, while Asian markets ended higher.

Japan's Nikkei advanced 1% after the Bank of Japan released survey data showing Japanese companies expect inflation to hit 1.5% next year, which could be interpreted as a positive sign in the central bank's fight against falling prices.

China markets also ended the day in positive territory. The Shanghai Composite added 0.6% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng increased 0.3%.

CNNMoney Sponsors