Cisco Systems' buoyant sales outlook helped pull U.S. stock market futures higher on Wednesday, offsetting the last session's downturn after the Federal Reserve signaled a pause rather than end to interest-rate hikes and after another warning in the home building sector.
Dow Jones futures were recently up 21 points, S&P 500 futures rose 2 points, and Nasdaq futures rose 5.2 points.
U.S. markets turned lower on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve left open the possibility of a rate hike as early as next month. The Dow industrials dropped 45 points, the Nasdaq Composite slipped 11 points and the S&P 500 dipped 4.3 points.
The Fed cited moderating growth for not hiking rates for the first time in 25 months. The dollar was lower against major rivals including the euro, the yen and the British pound.
Toll Brothers, the home builder, on Wednesday said the housing market slowdown isn't so much on an economic slowdown but more on poor consumer confidence.
Because much of the overhang of finished and near-finished product is being marketed using advertised price reductions and increased sales incentives, many anxious consumers are delaying their purchase decisions as they wonder about the direction of home prices, the company said.
Toll Brothers cut its delivery outlook for the next quarter and said fiscal third-quarter revenue dipped 0.5 percent.
The news was better at Cisco Systems Inc., which jumped 9 percent in Germany after reporting a flat quarterly profit as the cost of employee stock options and expenses related to its acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta were offset by a better-than-expected rise in sales.
Chief Executive John Chambers forecast revenue growth between 15 percent and 20 percent for the fiscal year ending in July 2007, better than analysts' expectations of a 15 percent rise.
Walt Disney & Co. highlights Wednesday's earnings releases.
Overseas markets were mixed. Buoyant Japanese machinery data sent Japanese stocks climbing after morning losses, and Hong Kong markets hit a six-year high. The Nikkei 225 finished 1.2 percent higher.
But European stock markets sagged, with metals stocks BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto down on a continued strike at their jointly-held Escondida copper miner.
Infineon Technologies was lower after cutting the size and price of its Qimonda memory-chip initial public offering.
Crude-oil futures rose 41 cents to $76.62 a barrel. Weekly U.S. inventory data will be seen as especially important after BP's disruption at the Alaskan Prudhoe Bay field. Crude production may be hurt by as much as 400,000 barrels a day, the company and the Energy Information Administration estimated.