The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

New York - US stocks Wednesday inched higher in early trade following a solid earnings report from Alcoa and ahead of the release of minutes from the latest Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting.

About 30 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12.22 points (0.07 percent) to 16,918.84.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 2.58 (0.13 percent) to 1,966.29, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased 3.98 (0.09 percent) to 4,395.44

Alcoa unofficially kicked off second-quarter earnings season after markets closed Tuesday with profits of $138 million, up from a loss of $119 million a year ago.

The company benefited from lower costs and said aluminum demand was on track to increase seven percent in 2014.

Alcoa shares rose 2.2 percent to $15.18.

Investors were also gearing up for the 20:00 SA time release of minutes from the Fed's June policy meeting.

Analysts will be looking for any sign the central bank is considering moving up its time-table for raising benchmark interest rates.

Tech stocks, many of which suffered deep losses Tuesday, generally posted early gains.

Early winners included Amazon (+0.9 percent), Facebook (+1.4 percent), Google (+0.2 percent) and Zillow (+1.6 percent).

Citigroup advanced 0.1 percent following reports the giant bank is close to a settlement with US prosecutors to resolve allegations it sold shoddy mortgages ahead of the housing bust.

Citi will pay about $7 billion to resolve the case, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Salix Pharmaceuticals announced it reached a deal to combine with an Irish-based subsidiary of Cosmo Pharmaceuticals of Italy.

The companies said the transaction will enhance Salix's holdings in treating gastrointestinal disease and result in lower taxes.

Salix shares fell 4.2 percent.

Bond prices were mixed.

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury edged up to 2.58 percent from 2.57 percent Tuesday, while the 30-year held steady at 3.38 percent.

Bond yields and prices move inversely. - Sapa-AFP