Stock futures were mostly higher after a measure on the labor market came in stronger than anticipated, though moves remained muted ahead market-moving news including Federal Reserve minutes and the outcome of a meeting between the U.S. and China.
S&P 500 futures were up 0.03%, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 0.1%, and Nasdaq futures were up 0.02%.
The private sector added 263,000 jobs in March, according to the ADP National Employment report. The reading blew past estimates of 190,500 jobs. The official jobs report for March, one of the most closely watched monthly datum, will be released on Friday. Analysts anticipate no drop in recent strength in the labor market with a target of 174,000 jobs expected to have been added to U.S. payrolls last month. The unemployment rate is anticipated to have held at 4.7%, while monthly wages should rise 0.3%.
The Fed's recent discussions over monetary policy will be made public when the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting in March are released Wednesday afternoon. At that meeting, the central bank decided to raise the federal funds rate for the third time since 2008 in a near unanimous call. The FOMC also forecast two more rate hikes this year.
Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet on Thursday and Friday at Mar-a-Lago in Florida in what are expected to be a highly charged discussions. Trump had been highly critical of China, accusing the country of currency manipulation and stealing U.S. jobs. Trump had previously proposed a high tariff on U.S. imports of Chinese-made products. North Korea also will presumably be an important topic of conversation.
Panera Bread (PNRA) shot 13% higher in premarket trading on Wednesday after securing a deal to be purchased by JAB for $7.5 billion. Privately held JAB will purchase the bakery chain for $315 a share in an all-cash deal that values Panera at a 30% premium to its 30-day average at the end of March, before deal talks influenced stock prices. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.
Walgreens (WBA) - Get Report declined by 1% after falling short of earnings and revenue estimates over its fiscal second quarter. The pharmacy chain earned adjusted profit of $1.36 a share, a penny below estimates. Sales fell 2.4% to $29.45 billion and missed targets of $30.26 billion.
Syngenta (SYT) was slightly higher on Wednesday after the European Union gave approval to ChemChina for its $43 billion acquisition of the agricultural chemicals company. The U.S. gave regulatory approval a day earlier. The EU said ChemChina must divest a "significant part" of its Adama pesticide business and some of Syngenta's pesticide units as a condition of the approval.
PPG Industries (PPG) - Get Report urged AkzoNobel (AKZOY) again to engage in discussions of a potential merger. Paints company PPG had previously made advances two times in March, though Akzo Nobel has declined to participate in talks. PPG said it believes the combined companies would present significant benefit to stakeholders.