U.S. Stocks Set To Rise As Yields Drop, Morgan Stanley Beats

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks were set for a higher open on Wednesday, as investors cheer lower bond yields, blow-out earnings from Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley and a $22.5 billion share buy-back from Home Depot Inc.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 55 at 13,810, while those for the S&P 500 index rose 4.70 points to 1,553.

Among blue chips, shares of Home Depot surged 6.2% after the home-improvement announced it would buy back up to $22.5 billion of its own shares.

Investors are starting to monitor earnings, which are starting to trickle through before the official reporting season begins in July.

Shares of FedEx Corp. rose slightly after it reported a 7% quarterly profit rise, helped by a settlement with Airbus over a cancelled order for the A380 superjumbo. Circuit City fell after it reported, as expected, a quarterly loss, following disappointing results from rival Best Buy Co. Inc. .

Brokers in focus

Brokers, which often lead the financial sector and the broad market, will likely get a boost after Morgan Stanley said second-quarter earnings were up 40% from the year earlier, widely beating analysts estimates. Its shares gained 2.2% before the open.

Possibly curbing enthusiasm for the sector, The Wall Street Journal reported that two big hedge funds run by Bear Stearns were close to being shut down as a rescue plan fell apart.

Merrill Lynch & Co., one of the hedge funds' lenders, said it would move to seize collateral -- much of it mortgage-backed debt -- from the two funds and sell it, according to documents reviewed by the newspaper.

At the same time, the funds' managers worked with a handful of other key lenders, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp., to pay off the funds' $9 billion in loans, the Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Yields fall

The bond market, where prices have come under pressure and yields have spiked over the past couple of weeks, has been regaining some ground in recent sessions, sending yields lower.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury bond was down 5/32 to 95 11/32, yielding 5.103%.

Higher bond yields had pressured the stock market over the past couple of weeks, as they provide a risk-free alternative to stocks, while also raising borrowing costs for consumers and businesses.

Also helping sentiment, crude-oil futures were down 35 cents at $69.19 a barrel. Weekly energy inventory data is due out at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher is due to talk about the regional Texas economy, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is due to testify in front of a House panel about China's currency.

By Nick Godt