Stocks in the UK are set for modest gains this morning, lifted by a positive finish in the States last night.
City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open around 12 points above yesterday's close of 6,590.69.
US stocks ended yesterday's session with modest gains, following three days of significant declines, in what was a rather turbulent day following heightened tensions in Eastern Europe.
The S&P 500
closed up 6.92 points, or 0.4%, at 1,851.96, led by both utilities and consumer discretionary stocks. The Dow Jones climbed 10.27, or 0.1%, ending at 16,256.14, while the Nasdaq rose 33.23, or 0.8% to 4,112.99.
Aluminum producer Alcoa marked the unofficial start of the first-quarter earnings season with its results, with revenue slightly below consensus forecasts, but shares
put in a decent rise after hours.
With the notable exception of Japan, Asian stocks put in a decent performance overnight.
Today attention will focused on the US Federal Reserve, which will release minutes of its meeting in March when it announced another round of stimulus tapering.
The central bank shaved off a further $10bn off its monthly bond purchase following the March 18th to 19th meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen surprised markets by saying the first rise in interest rates could come six months after the end to quantitative easing.
If the Fed keeps up the current pace of asset buying reductions, the programme will end around October.
Last week Yellen said the bank's "extraordinary commitment" to improving the labour market "is still needed and will be for some time, and I believe that this view is widely held by my fellow policymakers at the Fed".
The minutes may shed further light behind the Fed's decision to scale back QE and on Yellen's remarks regarding interest rates.
In this morning's UK-listed company news, Rolls-Royce has been awarded a $100m contract to service the US Navy's T-45 training aircraft. The contractor logistics support contract with the US Department of Defense is a one-year extension to the existing agreement. Rolls-Royce has provided support to the US Navy's training fleet for the past 10 years.
bwin.party has announced that Philip Yea will succeed Simon Duffy as Chairman of the board. Yea will takeover the reigns when Duffy steps down at the company's annual general meeting on May 22nd 2014. Yea, 59, is a Non-Executive Director of Vodafone Group and Aberdeen Asian Smaller Companies Investment Trust and Chairman of the board of trustees of the British Heart Foundation.
Engineering consultancy Atkins expects flat annual revenue from its UK and continental European business, but said a good performance in the Middle East should help it post full year results in line with expectations.