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Stock futures reach record highs

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Stock futures reach record highs

Stock futures reach record highs

On Tuesday, US stock index futures rose to record intraday highs as oil prices surged and investors assessed earnings from top US retailers.

Wal-Mart’s (WMT.N) shares were up 1.5 percent at $70.42 in premarket trading after the retailer reported a higher-than-expected rise in comparable store sales. Wal-Mart said sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 1.8 percent, excluding fuel price fluctuations, during the fourth quarter ended on Jan. 31. Analysts on average were expecting an increase of 1.3 percent, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs reported comparable sales were up at all store formats due to a steady improvement in stores, strong growth from e-commerce and a growing contribution from the online grocery business.

“We’ve now seen nine consecutive quarters of traffic growth in our stores,” Biggs said in a statement. “Clearly, we’re gaining traction.”

Meanwhile, Home Depot (HD.N) rose 1.63 percent to $145.33 after the home improvement store chain reported better-than-expected results and set a $15 billion buyback program.

US equities looked set to pick up on their record run, with stock futures briefly tapping fresh highs as investors prepared for key data and results from retailers this week.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YMH7, +0.34%  rose 31 points, or 0.2%, to 20,619, pushing as high as 20,671, according to FactSet. S&P 500 futures ESH7, +0.27%  gained 3.1 points, or 0.1%, to 2,351, tapping a high of 2,356.75. Nasdaq-100 futures NQH7, +0.13%  added 4.5 points to 5,330.25, reaching as high as 5,345.50. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI marked its seventh-straight record close on Friday. The S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC also closed at record levels.

US stock exchanges were closed for the President’s Day holiday on Monday. But the backdrop was positive for Tuesday’s session, as all three major stock indexes closed at record highs on Friday.

This week, attention will focus on economic data reports and the minutes of the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

Also, investors will keep an eye on comments from three Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday for more insight into the timing of the next rate hike.

On Wednesday, the central bank will release the minutes of its latest policy meeting.

The dollar rose 0.5 percent after Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said on Sunday that she would be comfortable raising rates if the US economy kept performing. Gold prices fell 0.6 percent.

Kraft Heinz (KHC.O) shares fell 4.3 percent on Tuesday after it walked away from its $143 billion offer to buy Unilever (ULVR.L), a day after the Anglo-Dutch company rejected the proposal. Unilever’s U.S.-listed shares (UL.N) were down 8.4 percent.

Freeport (FCX.N) was down 5 percent at $14.16 after the miner warned on Monday it could take the Indonesian government to arbitration and seek damages over a dispute that has halted operations at a copper mine.

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