Stocks: Apple earnings lift spirits

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Investors were in good spirits Wednesday as they pondered better-than-expected quarterly results from Apple.

U.S. stock futures were higher ahead of the opening bell.

Apple (AAPL) shares were rallying after the iPhone maker reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations, easing investor anxiety about tech giant's future.

Ford (F) posted better-than-expected profits, and said this was its best-ever second quarter in North America and Asia.

PepsiCo (PEP), maker of Pepsi and Frito-Lay products, also reported a increase in quarterly profit.

Airplane manufacturer Boeing (BA) reported improved earnings and revenue, and raised its guidance for the year.

Caterpillar (CAT) posted earnings and sales below forecasts. The heavy equipment manufacturer also lowered its earnings and sales outlook for the year.

Facebook (FB)and Visa (V) are due after the close.

In other corporate news, Dell (DELL) said it received a revised offer from founder Michael Dell, and would be holding a special meeting Aug. 2 to consider its options.

Apparel company HanesBrands (HBI) said it reached an agreement to buy Maidenform Brands (MFB) in an all-cash deal worth $575 million.

On the economic front, the Census Bureau will release data on new-home sales at 10 a.m. ET.

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U.S. stocks finished mixed Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average ending at an all-time high of 15,567.74.

European markets were all moving up in morning trading after the latest eurozone purchasing managers' index showed the region was stabilizing. Manufacturing output grew for the first time since February 2012, while the service sector saw its smallest rate of decline for 18 months.

"The hope for the eurozone is that current gradually rising confidence encourages businesses to increasingly pare back their job cutting and become more prepared to invest," said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.

Related: Factory output puts brakes on China's growth

Meanwhile, Asian markets had a mixed day after HSBC said Wednesday that its "flash" index of Chinese manufacturing purchasing managers' sentiment fell to an 11-month low in July.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.2%, the Shanghai Composite index declined by 0.5%, and Tokyo's Nikkei edged down by 0.3%.

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