Stocks Set for Flat Open

Stocks faced a flat open ahead of a report on U.S. capital inflows and another big earnings report from the brokerage sector.

Index futures recently showed the S&P 500 trading at fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 2-point gain. The 10-year Treasury bond was down 3/32 in price to yield 4.70%, while the dollar fell against the yen and euro.

Oil eased, with April crude recently losing 45 cents to $62.65 a barrel. An Energy Department report later Wednesday is expected to show that U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.5 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks fell by 800,000 barrels.

Overseas markets were higher, with London's FTSE 100 recently up 0.5% to 5978 and Germany's Xetra DAX adding 0.3% to 5889. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei rose 0.5% overnight to 16,319, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.3% to 15,720.

On the economic docket, the Treasury Department is expected to say that international capital inflows rose to $65 billion in January, from $56 billion in December. The report is increasingly viewed as a key indicator of the willingness of foreigners to finance the U.S. current accounts deficit. Later, the Federal Reserve will publish its "beige book" report on regional economic activity.

A day after Goldman Sachs' ( GS) blowout first quarter helped drive a stock market rally, Lehman Brothers ( LEH) will report its earnings for the December-February period. Lehman is expected to say that profit rose 9% to $3.17 a share, according to First Call.

Among companies Wednesday, a group led by buyout specialist Kohlberg Kravis has offered up to $13 billion for General Motors' ( GM) finance arm, the Wall Street Journal reported. The bid for GMAC follows a competing offer for the unit by a hedge fund group that includes Cerberus Capital.

Sears ( SHLD) said fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled to $648 million, or $4.03 a share, easily beating estimates. Revenue was $16.09 billion.

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