Wall St set to open higher, powered by profits

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U.S. stocks were poised for a strong open on Wednesday after a raft of solid earnings and outlooks bolstered optimism about the economic recovery.

Intel Corp jumped 6.7 percent to $21.18 in premarket trade after forecasting quarterly revenues well above Wall Street's estimates, easing fears the world's largest chipmaker is struggling as growth in personal computer sales slows.

Yahoo Inc advanced 4.1 percent to $16.78 after the Internet company said an important partnership with Microsoft Corp is taking longer than expected to pay off, but the company posted quarterly earnings that topped Wall Street targets.

It seemed like the earnings season got off to a bit of a shaky start, but now companies are coming through with very strong results, by and large, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.

This really shows that corporations are delivering strong results and benefiting from the slow but steady economic improvement.

IBM shed 0.9 percent to $163.90 after reporting a decline in signings of new business at its global services division during the first quarter. However, its profit and revenue came in above analysts' projections.

Adding to the positive tone, Spain attracted solid demand at a bond sale on Wednesday, easing concerns it could be swept up by the debt contagion of some other euro zone members.

United Technologies Corp rose 3.2 percent to $85 after the diversified manufacturer posted a 16.9 percent rise in quarterly profit and raised its outlook for the year, boosted by strong demand for Carrier air conditioners.

AT&T slipped 0.2 percent to $30.25 after the Dow component reported first-quarter results and posted weak subscriber growth as it gave up exclusive U.S. rights to sell the Apple iPhone.

S&P 500 futures added 17.6 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 145 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 30.5 points.

As gold shot above $1,500 an ounce for the first time ever, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold jumped 5.2 percent to $54.43 after the miner posted a 67 percent jump in first-quarter profit, beating Wall Street estimates.

Companies scheduled to report quarterly results later on Wednesday include Apple Inc and American Express Co .

Apple is expected to report quarterly results tempered by caution over how supply constraints may squeeze margins and restrain iPhone and iPad sales.

Economic indicators include March existing-home sales at 10 a.m. <1400 GMT>.

In deal news, U.S. power company AES Corp said it would buy smaller rival DPL Inc for $3.5 billion in cash to expand in the Midwest by adding 500,000 retail customers in West Central Ohio.

DPL shares gained 8.5 percent to $29.94 and AES advanced 2.3 percent to $12.75 in premarket trade.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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