Stock index futures pointed to a mixed opening on Wall Street on Wednesday, following declines in Europe and Asia, with some caution expected ahead of the Federal Reserve interest rate decision later in the day.
At 5:32 a.m. EST, futures for the Dow Jones index were down 0.1 percent. Those for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both up 0.1 percent.
The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of leading European shares was down 0.8 percent at 1,014.88 points, with banks taking most off the index.
The Fed concludes its two-day policy meeting at 2:15 p.m. EST, with few policy shifts expected, but investors will be looking for clues on how long it will leave ultra-low interest rates and an easy money policy in place.
Investors will also watch for new home sales figures, due at 10 a.m. EST.
The Senate on Tuesday moved to clear the way to confirm Ben Bernanke to a second term as Federal Reserve chairman, setting a procedural vote for Thursday in a sign that the needed votes were now secured.
President Barack Obama gives his first state of the union address to Congress at 9 p.m. EST.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner denied any role in disclosures about American International Group's payments to banks and defended his decisions as New York Federal Reserve chief to pay full price to retire AIG credit default swaps.
Apple Inc is expected to announce a new product, a day after it posted better than forecast Mac sales and strong growth in Asia and Europe, although iPhone shipments came in just below Wall Street's heightened expectations.
Software maker Oracle Corp , which is near to closing its $7 billion acquisition of computer maker Sun Microsystems Inc , plans to hire 2,000 sales and engineering employees, the Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday. Oracle plans to unveil its strategy for Sun on Wednesday.
Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, is expected to report a sharp drop in quarterly earnings per share at $0.28, compared with $1.08 in the same period a year ago.
Boeing is expected to report an improved quarterly performance, swinging to a profit from a year earlier loss. But investors will be looking to the 2010 outlook for earnings and whether there could be plane production cuts to come. Analysts forecast earnings of $1.36 per share, up from a $0.08 loss in the same quarter a year ago.
Firmer oil prices are expected to have helped fourth-quarter results at ConocoPhillips. The company is expected to report quarterly earnings per share of $1.13 against $1.28 reported a year earlier
Abbott Laboratories will report impressive growth for its newer medicines, easing the company's heavy dependence on arthritis drug Humira and its Xience heart stent for sales and profit growth. It's earnings are expected to have risen by 11 cents per share to $1.17.
Other companies due to report include investment firm BlackRock .
U.S. stocks slipped late on Tuesday due to trepidation over churning political and regulatory developments, offsetting solid earnings and improved consumer confidence data. The S&P 500 <.SPX> closed 0.4 percent lower.
After the bell on Tuesday shares in Yahoo Inc were briefly up 1.6 percent, as the company reported quarterly results, but then began to trade slightly below closing levels.
Shares in Berkshire Hathaway rose 8 percent after the close on Tuesday as Standard & Poor's announced the stock will be added to the S&P 500, replacing Burlington Northern Santa Fe , at a date to be announced. They were recently up 5.5 percent in Frankfurt .
Shares in Gilead Sciences rose 1.4 percent to $45.50 in extended trade after the company reported a rise in quarterly profits on higher sales from its HIV drugs and royalties on sales of the flu drug Tamiflu.
(Reporting by Harpreet Bhal; Editing by Greg Mahlich)