Techs bolster confidence
Futures point to higher start after Yahoo, Intel, IBM all report better-than-expected quarterly results; barrage of economic readings on tap.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks appeared poised for a higher opening Wednesday, with technology stocks looking to lead the way on Wall Street after a batch of upbeat earnings in the sector.
A string of tech companies, including Yahoo (Charts, Fortune 500), Intel (Charts, Fortune 500) and IBM (Charts, Fortune 500), posted quarterly results late Tuesday that exceeded Wall Street's estimates, and helped lift futures higher in early trading Wednesday.
Shares of Yahoo surged nearly 10 percent and Intel jumped 5 percent in extended trading on the results. But IBM shares slipped 1.2 percent despite the better-than-expected earnings as its gross profit margin narrowed and revenue from its hardware business declined.
The strong reports offer support to a market that has slumped amid worries about record-high oil prices and the economic outlook. Stocks finished lower Tuesday for the second straight session.
The government releases its weekly report on crude inventories later in the day. Oil prices were lower ahead of that report in early trading, after soaring to a fresh closing high of $87.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday.
The surge in crude has also lifted gold prices to their highest level since 1980. Gold prices opened at $758.50 an ounce in London on Wednesday.
Reports on consumer inflation, housing starts and builder confidence also are slated for release.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com are forecasting the Consumer Price Index, the government's key measure of inflation on the retail level, gained 0.3 percent in September after a 0.1 percent decline in August. The more closely watched core CPI, which strips out the effect of volatile food and energy prices, climbed 0.2 percent, the same gain posted the previous month.
A higher than expected inflation reading could damage hopes of another Federal Reserve rate cut at its Oct. 31 meeting, while a better than forecast report could raise hopes that the central bank has a green light to cut rates.
The latest sign of that came out this morning when the Census Bureau reported that housing starts fell to a 14-year low in September while building permits slipped to a 12-year low.
A survey from the National Association of Home Builders on Tuesday showed builder confidence at an all-time low due to weak demand for homes.
At 2 p.m. ET the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book of economic conditions.
The $10.6 billion buyout of cable operator Cablevision (Charts, Fortune 500) is running into trouble after reports said Cablevision's largest institutional shareholder, ClearBridge Advisors, plans to vote against the deal. CEO James Dolan has said his family has no plans to raise its offer to take the company private.
In global trade, most markets in Asia finished the session lower. Indian stocks plunged, falling as much as 8 percent before recovering most of the loss, after the market regulator moved to curb buying by foreign funds. European stocks were mixed in early trading. The dollar was lower against the euro but higher versus the yen.