Wall Street set to rise on global growth signs

By Sruthi ShankarWall StreetReuters

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(Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Wednesday as signs of faster global growth around the world added to upbeat investor sentiment following a U.S. tax overhaul.

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U.S. stocks kicked off 2018 on a strong note on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closing at record levels as technology stocks advanced.

"The sentiment is very much positive. We had a strong start and we are likely to see a follow through in the near-term," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

At 8:31 a.m. ET (1331 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 51 points, or 0.21 percent, with 13,360 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.15 percent, with 93,291 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 9 points, or 0.14 percent, on volume of 18,445 contracts.

The Federal Open Market Committee is set to release minutes from its December meeting, when the central bank raised interest rates for the third time in 2017.

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Investors will parse the minutes, due at 2:00 p.m. ET, for hints on rate tightening action in the coming months and the impact of the U.S. tax overhaul on the economy and inflation.

The odds of a March rate hike are at 56.3 percent level, according to the CME Group's Fedwatch tool.

"There's a lot more mystery surrounding the Fed. We see the Fed as being somewhat more hawkish in 2018, but this is the time when the risks of the policy are really starting to increase," Brown said.

The Institute for Supply Management is likely to report that its manufacturing index edged lower to 58.1 in December from 58.2 in November. The report is due at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Meanwhile, industry surveys from major economies including Europe showed quickening activity.

In other stock moves, Scana Corp (NYSE:SCG) surged 22 percent after Dominion Energy (NYSE:D) said it would buy the utility in an all-stock deal.

Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) up about 1.5 percent following upgrades.

MoneyGram International (NASDAQ:MGI) dipped 7 percent after Alibaba-owned Ant Financial's plan to acquire the U.S. money transfer company in a $1.2 billion deal collapsed due to national security concerns.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) slumped 3.6 percent following a report that a design flaw in its processor chips has forced a redesign of its Linux and Windows kernels to defang a chip-level security bug.

Rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) was up about 7 percent.

Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) slipped 3.2 percent after brokerage Longbow Research downgraded the company's stock to "underperform".

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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