Stocks: Waiting for Europe's grand plan

October 26, 2011: 8:41 AM ET

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks are poised to start the trading day modestly higher, as investors remain hopeful that a key European summit Wednesday will end with a grand plan to tackle the region's debt and banking crisis.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were all about 0.6% higher ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

European government heads are meeting Wednesday afternoon, after pledging to unveil a comprehensive plan to tackle the region's debt crisis.

An official announcement isn't expected until later in the afternoon.

"We all expect the plan is going to happen. The question is -- is it really going to be big enough to make a dent?" said Mark Lamkin, founder and president of Lamkin Wealth Management in Louisville, KY. "There's no doubt it's going to move the markets."

Before heading off to Brussels for the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel first addressed the Bundestag in Berlin about changes to Europe's stability fund. A vote by the German parliament on leveraging mechanisms for the fund is expected to get underway shortly.

U.S. stocks ended sharply lower Tuesday, as investors nervously awaited the EU summit and digested disappointing earnings reports from big companies including 3M (MMM, Fortune 500).

Companies: Early Wednesday, Ford (F, Fortune 500) announced it earned $1.6 billion in third quarter, slightly less than a year earlier. It's the automaker's ninth straight profitable quarter, but the company did not announce the return of its dividend that investors had been seeking. Ford shares fell slightly in premarket trading.

Sprint Nextel (S, Fortune 500) announced a loss of 10 cents per share in the third quarter, after losing 30 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. But shares rose 3% as the company reported strong subscriber growth..

Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) shares rose 3.4% after the airplane maker announced earnings of $1.46 per share, beating analysts' expectations. The announcement comes the same day as the company's 787 Dreamliner makes its long-delayed commercial debut on an Air Nippon flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong.

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia (NOK) unveiled two new smartphones Wednesday as it sought to boost its flagging fortunes in the booming market.

Nokia is trying to gain traction in the smartphone market, dominated by Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPhones and Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) Android operating system. Nokia shares rose 2.7% in premarket trading. (AMZN, Fortune 500) disappointed investors late Tuesday by reporting third-quarter earnings of 14 cents per share, short of the 24 cents per share forecast of the analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The $63 million in profit represented a 73% decline over the same quarter a year earlier. Amazon shares plunged 12.3% in premarket trading.

Economy: New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased $1.5 billion, or 0.8% to $200.3 billion in September, the Census Brueau reported Wednesday.

Analysts surveyed by had expected orders to drop 1%, following a 0.1% drop in August.

World markets: European stocks were higher in mid-day trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) rose 0.3%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany gained 0.5% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) added 0.6%.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) rose 0.7%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong added 0.5% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) slid 0.2%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro and Japanese yen, but rose versus the British pound.

Oil for December delivery gained 43 cents to $93.60 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery rose $5.10 to $1,705.50 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 2.15% from 2.13% late Tuesday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 31,391.52 -143.99 -0.46%
Nasdaq 13,358.79 -230.04 -1.69%
S&P 500 3,870.29 -31.53 -0.81%
Treasuries 1.42 -0.03 -2.14%
Data as of 4:29am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.88%
15 yr fixed3.20%3.23%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.88%
30 yr refi3.82%3.93%
15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
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