NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Stronger-than-expected results from Apple and other major companies have U.S. stocks poised for a higher open Wednesday.
Investors are also awaiting a Federal Reserve policy announcement and chairman Ben Bernanke's news conference, where he will give his latest assessment of the economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average (), S&P 500 ( ) and Nasdaq ( ) futures were all higher ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Global markets got a lift from better-than-expected earnings from Apple (Fortune 500), the world's most valuable company, which reported after the bell Tuesday. Shares were up 10.3% in premarket trading, taking its share price back above $600 after a couple of weeks of declines.,
Apple reported that its net income nearly doubled to $11.6 billion, or $12.30 per share, on much stronger-than-expected iPhone sales -- especially in Asia.
Wednesday also brought more strong corporate results for investors to consider, with Dow components Boeing (Fortune 500) and Caterpillar ( , Fortune 500) along with telecom Sprint Nextel ( , Fortune 500) and health insurer Wellpoint ( , Fortune 500) and glass maker and tech supplier Corning ( , Fortune 500) all reporting better than expected results before the market open.,
Several economic reports are on tap as well, which will be parsed for clues to the health of the U.S. economic recovery.
U.S. stocks finished mixed Tuesday. Better-than-expected earnings boosted the Dow and S&P, while Netflix ( ) weighed down the Nasdaq.
World markets: European stocks were higher in midday trading, despite a reading on gross domestic product in the United Kingdom that indicated Britain has fallen back into recession. London's FTSE 100 ( ) edged up 0.2%, while the DAX ( ) in Germany added 1.4% and France's CAC 40 ( ) gained 1.8%.
Germany's auction of €3 billion of 30-year bonds was under subscribed Wednesday morning, with only €2.7 billion in bids being received. That sent yields on the German debt higher.
Asian markets ended mixed, with the Shanghai Composite () rising 0.8% and Japan's Nikkei ( ) up nearly 1%, while the Hang Seng ( ) in Hong Kong slid 0.2%.
Economy: The day's economic highlight will likely be the Fed's policy announcement and Bernanke's comments in the early afternoon. Few expect him to waver from his position that the economy will continue to warrant "exceptionally low" interest rates through late 2014.
Before the market open the Commerce Department's durable goods report came in weaker than expected, with new orders for big ticket items falling 4.2 -- worse than the 1.7% drop forecast by economists surveyed by Briefing.com. New orders for nondefense capital goods, excluding aircraft, fell 8.9%. That reading in the report is taken as a barometer of business investment.
The Mortgage Bankers Association also reported a 3.8% in new mortgage applications for last week, despite the exceptionally low rates on home loans.
Mad cow case: At least one major South Korean retailer has suspended the sale of U.S. beef Wednesday, the day after after authorities confirmed a case of "mad cow disease" in the carcass of dairy cow in central California. But Korean authorities have not halted imports of U.S. beef. South Korea is the No. 2 importer of U.S. beef.
The news of the case sent shares of Tyson Foods (Fortune 500), one of the biggest U.S. beef processors, lower in afternoon trading. It rebounded to close up 1.5% on the day and was up another 1.5% in premarket trading Wednesday.,
Shares of some restaurant chains lost ground, including McDonalds (Fortune 500), which fell 0.6% in Tuesday trading, but the stock rebounded 0.2% in premarket trading Wednesday.,
Companies: Aerospace manufacturer Boeing to reported earnings of $1.22 a share, easily topping the 94 cents a share forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Shares were up 2.7% in premarket trading.
Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar reported record quarterly earnings per share of $2.37, beating forecasts of $2.13 per share. The company also raised its full-year earnings outlook. Despite the news, its shares slipped 1.1% in premarket trading.
Sprint Nextel posted a loss of 29 cents a share, almost twice as bad as a year ago but better than the expected loss of 41 cent a share. Shares gained 7.7% in premarket trading.
Wellpoint is expected to report earnings of $2.34 a share excluding its investment gain, topping forecasts of $2.27 a share. Its shares edged up 0.4% in premarket. Corning, whose Gorilla glass is used in Apple's iPhones and iPads, earned 30 cents a share, down from a year earlier but better than the 28 cent a share forecast. Its shares rose 6.8%.
Oil for June delivery rose 82 cents $104.37 a barrel.
Gold futures for June delivery lost $1.40 to $1,642.40 an ounce, but trading amount is up from earlier lows.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury slipped, pushing the yield up slightly to 1.99%.
|Microsoft unveils new Xbox One game console|
|Stocks end at record highs ahead of Bernanke|
|Apple grilled about tax havens|
|The Obamacare myth about small business|
|Is Saks for sale?|
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.65%||3.65%|
|15 yr fixed||2.80%||2.78%|
|30 yr refi||3.64%||3.63%|
|15 yr refi||2.79%||2.78%|
Today's featured rates: