Geopolitical risks are fading further Wednesday, allowing investors to focus on improving company earnings and taking the Dow and S&P toward record highs.
U.S. stock futures were edging higher.
"I think some of the macro geopolitical concerns have, at least for the moment, moved back to the back burner," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist for Wunderlich Securities, referring to violent conflicts in Israel and Ukraine. "It's a market that's shifted its focus over the last 24 hours back to earnings."
Hogan said that 70% of companies have so far beat expectations on earnings and revenue. He said that normally only 58% of companies beat on revenue.
"Earnings have been significantly better than expectations across the board," he said. "Larger numbers of companies have been surprising to the upside."
Here are the four things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:
1. World markets gain: Major indexes across Europe were firmer after EU officials stopped short of imposing tough economic sanctions on Moscow.
Still, the relief could be short-lived as Europe demanded Russia's "full and immediate" cooperation over Ukraine or risk losing access to European finance, defense equipment and energy technology. Germany's Dax gained 0.4%, while Russia's Micex index slipped 0.3%, taking its losses for the year to nearly 7%.
2. Big earnings day: Investors will have plenty of earnings to digest Wednesday. Boeing ( and ) Delta Air Lines ( will report earnings before the opening bell. )
Dow Chemical ( reported an uptick in sales, compared to the year-ago quarter, but net income plunged. )PepsiCo ( also reported a drop in profit. )
3. Stock market movers -- Apple, Microsoft, Deutsche Bank: Shares of Apple (Tech30) slipped in premarket trading. The company reported a , jump in sales and profit for the last quarter, but lowered sales projections for the current quarter. Microsoft (Tech30) sales , beat Wall Street expectations, sending its shares up premarket.
Deutsche Bank ( shares fell 1.6% in Frankfurt trading after The Wall Street Journal reported that the New York Federal Reserve had serious concerns about internal supervision and regulation at the bank's U.S. operations. )
4. Tuesday markets recap: U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 60 points and is within sight of its record close, which occurred last week. The S&P 500 gained about half a percent while the Nasdaq closed up 0.7%.