Stocks to Start Wednesday Positive

Valeant, Cott in Focus

Futures pointed to a higher opening for Canada's main stock index on Wednesday, with oil prices holding steady near mid-2015 levels as high U.S. and Russian output balanced tensions from ongoing unrest in Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries member Iran.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index climbed 100.86 points to close the year’s first session at 16,309.99

The Canadian dollar dipped 0.07 cents to 79.89 cents U.S. Wednesday morning.

March futures added 0.2% Wednesday.

A U.S. court on Tuesday asked Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc and activist investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square to appear for a hearing to discuss the proposed settlement in an insider trading lawsuit.

Drinks bottler Refresco is willing to offer remedies to concerns voiced by Britain's Competition and Markets Authority over the Dutch company's $1.25-billion acquisition of Cott Corp's bottling activities.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange moved 20.35 points, or 2.4%, higher Tuesday to 871.07

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday, as investors turned their attention away from geopolitical tensions and toward upcoming economic news and data.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrials gained 48 points, or 0.2%, to 24,816

S&P 500 futures pointed higher 3.25 points, or 0.1%, to 2,696.25, while futures on the NASDAQ Composite index picked up 8.75 points, or 0.1%, to 6,523.50

In earnings, Commercial Metals, UniFirst and Rite Aid are due.

In data news today, all eyes are on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes. The document, due out at 2 p.m. ET, will contain the minutes of the U.S. central bank's most recent meeting.

In December, the institution raised interest rates by a quarter point and hiked its growth outlook for the U.S. economy. Investors are expected to pore over the minutes to see if the Fed provides any additional clues as to how the U.S. economy is currently performing.

On the data front, mortgage applications fell in the last week of 2017 as rates rose. The manufacturing ISM report on business and construction spending are both due out at 10 a.m. ET.

Overseas, European markets were at least marginally higher approaching noon on the continent, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index poked ahead 0.2%. Japanese markets remained on holiday.

Oil prices gained 51 cents to $60.88 U.S. per barrel.

Gold prices took on 90 cents to $1,317.00 U.S. an ounce.