Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, extending recent gains, as investors braced for a slew of company results as well as the outcome of a Federal Reserve meeting.
The central bank has already slashed interest rates to nearly zero and is looking for other tools to revive economic growth. The market will be looking for any announcement of new policy measures, such as purchasing long-dated Treasuries. Analysts said markets will also be looking out for any updated forecasts from the Fed on the economic outlook.
At 1019 GMT, futures for the S&P 500 were up 2.2 percent, Dow Jones futures were up 2.1 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 2.4 percent.
Investors' attention will be on results from companies that include Starbucks (SBUX.O), AT&T (T.N), ConocoPhillips (COP.N), Boeing (BA.N), Boston Scientific (BSX.N), Cabot (CBT.N), Legg Mason (LM.N), Qualcomm (QCOM.O), Symantec (SYMC.O) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N).
Yahoo Inc's (YHOO.O) fourth-quarter results beat Wall Street's low expectations on Tuesday, thanks to a series of cost cuts in a weak advertising market, sending its shares up 5 percent in a relief rally.
However, Yahoo gave first-quarter forecasts for operating income that were well below Wall Street estimates and did not give its usual full-year outlook, which disappointed some analysts and underscored the uncertainties the company faces.
High-end computer and software company Sun Microsystems (JAVA.O) posted better-than-expected results, as a strong software and open storage business cushioned declining overall sales, and its shares rose.
The company, which like rivals Dell Inc (DELL.O) and EMC Corp (EMC.N), is struggling with diminishing tech spending, posted an 11 percent decline in quarterly revenue.
Swiss drugmaker Novartis (NOVN.VX) expects 2009 to be increasingly tough, even after sales of blood pressure and cancer drugs helped drive fourth-quarter net profit up 62 percent. Profit hit $1.5 billion but missed forecasts as the strong dollar weighed, and Novartis said on Wednesday it expected 2009 to be an "increasingly challenging environment."
Confidence among heads of the world's top companies meeting in Davos has tumbled to a new low, with the prospect of a long recession torpedoing faith in corporate prospects. The findings from a poll of more than 1,100 CEOs sets a grim backdrop to the four-day meeting of the world's business and political elite in the Swiss ski resort, which begins on Wednesday.
U.S. stocks climbed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq up for a third straight day, as better-than-feared corporate results fueled a glimmer of hope in earnings, overshadowing fresh signs that consumers remain glum.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) rose 0.72 percent, to 8,174.73. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) gained 1.09 percent, to 845.71, and the Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) advanced 1.04 percent, to 1,504.90.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; editing by Karen Foster)