Stocks Set to Open Higher as Earnings Season Begins

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Wall Street was set to open higher on Monday as investors braced for corporate earnings season, with Alcoa set to post first-quarter results after the market closes.

Expectations for profit growth are low as companies struggle with a weak global economy, falling commodity prices and a stronger dollar.

Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to have declined 7.6 percent on average in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Big bank earnings are also on the cards through the week, starting with JPMorgan Chase & Co on Wednesday.

"We're in a bit of a holding pattern until earnings, which kick off with Alcoa tonight, but more importantly the banks will start to report by mid-week," said Aaron Clark, a portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management in Boston.

"That will be the next key event, which moves the market one way or the other," he said.

At 8:32 a.m. ET (1232 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 59 points, or 0.34 percent, with 33,148 contracts changing hands. S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.25 points, or 0.36 percent, with 246,297 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 18 points, or 0.4 percent, on 34,166 contracts.

Investors are also looking for clarity on monetary policy, with U.S. Federal Reserve appearing more cautious on rate hikes than the market had expected.

A meeting on Monday between U.S. President Barack Obama and Fed Chair Janet Yellen to discuss the economy and Wall Street reform will be keenly watched.

Oil, which has been a big influence on the stock market this year, was little changed ahead of next Sunday's meeting by producers aimed at freezing output.

A rally in crude on Friday pushed Wall Street higher, but did little to boost sentiment and the three major indexes still closed lower for the week.

New York Fed President William Dudley, who is a permanent voting member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, is due to speak later in the day.

Yahoo shares were up 1.2 percent at $36.49 premarket after the parent company of Britain's Daily Mail said it was in talks with potential partners to mount a bid for the company's Internet assets.

Seagate rose 2.8 percent to $34.15 after Cowen started coverage on the stock with a "market perform" rating.

National Oilwell Varco dropped 5 percent to $27.65 after the oilfield equipment maker said it would cut its quarterly dividend.

(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)