NEW YORK — Stocks appear ready to head higher at the start of trading Wednesday, as oil prices ease back from two-year highs.
Crude oil is hovering around $105 a barrel after briefly nearing $107 earlier in the week. The conflict in Libya has raised concerns about a drop in oil production, causing a surge in crude prices. The recent run-up in oil has weighed on stock prices.
Stocks snapped a two-day losing streak Tuesday as oil prices slipped. Kuwait's oil minister said that OPEC members are discussing raising oil output.
Later Wednesday morning, the Commerce Department will release its monthly report on wholesale inventories. The consensus among private economists is that businesses added to their stockpiles in January, reflecting optimism that demand for their products will continue growing.
Wednesday also marks the two-year anniversary of the most recent stock market rally. Stocks bottomed out at 12-year lows on March 9, 2009, after the start of the financial crisis. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has nearly doubled since then.
Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures are up 25, or 0.2 percent, at 12,224. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures are up 2, or 0.2 percent, at 1,322. Nasdaq 100 futures are up 3, or 0.1 percent, at 2,337.
H&R Block Inc., the country's largest tax preparation company, will report quarterly results after the market closes on Wednesday. The company has already said it expects to post a decline in profit and revenue because of slow start to the tax filing season.
Banks led the market higher Tuesday after Bank of America's chief executive Brian Moynihan told an investor's meeting that the bank may earn more money over the next two years as its business stabilizes. Moynihan said he was intent on rewarding the bank's shareholders, raising expectations that banks would boost their dividend payments.