Oracle's strong earnings will perk up techs, but the broader markets are hanging on the May consumer price index report. Asia and Europe were running in place, and the Dow is set to open slightly higher.
After two days of directionless trading, look for the markets to finally move on some economic news.
The consumer price index, which tracks inflation on the retail level, could reveal the latest pricing pressures. The CPI data could reaffirm or weaken speculation that the Federal Reserve is about to raise interest rates at its two-day policy meeting at the end of the month.
The markets already seem to be pricing in a rate increase. The consensus CPI estimate calls for a gain of 0.2 percent. The CPI figures, along with May housing starts, will be reported at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
But the real news in the tech world is Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), which reported strong fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday. The company easily topped Wall Street estimates and said the first quarter "is off to a strong start."
Other stocks to watch include Jabil Circuit (NYSE: JBL) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).
Internet stocks gained on Tuesday, but it's a bit too early to try to call the bottom. The Inter@ctive Week @Net Index continued to slide. However, positive news on the interest rate front could boost Net issues.
On Tuesday, techs gained. But early optimism gave way to guarded pragmatism Tuesday as the Dow Jones industrial average whittled away a 115-point gain to close up only 32 points at 10,594.99. A bit of recovery from leading Internet stocks pushed the Nasdaq up 16 points to 2,414.68
At the Bell
The Dow Jones industrial average is set to open about 21 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index for June futures contracts was up 2.7 points to 1317 at 7:47 a.m. EST in 24-hour electronic trading.
Trading was guarded in Asia in anticipation of the CPI data release. The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.42 percent at 17,210. Singapore's Strait Times index fell 0.15 percent to 2,043 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.70 percent to 13155.
European markets were also flat.
London's FTSE 100 lost 0.02 percent to 6,449 the CAC 40 in Paris slumped 0.21 percent to 4,408 and the Xetra DAX in Frankfurt slid 0.49 percent to 5,318 at 7:19 a.m. EST.