Apple Beat, EU Data Lift Futures


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Strong quarterly earnings from tech titan Apple, coupled with encouraging data out of the eurozone, pushed U.S. stock-index futures higher on Wednesday.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:00 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 34 points to 15547, S&P 500 futures advanced 6 points to 1694 and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 28.8 points to 3055.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) took the wraps off quarterly results that topped expectations after the closing bell Tuesday. Shares of the world's biggest technology company, which have an outsize impact on the tech-heavy Nasdaq, rallied. AT&T (NYSE:T) posted narrowly-weaker-than-expected profits, but sales that topped analysts' estimates.

Boeing's (NYSE:BA) quarterly results flew past estimates, sending shares of the aerospace giant climbing. However, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) weighed in with disappointing results and a gloomy full-year outlook.

On the economic front, the eurozone's private sector unexpectedly shifted into expansion mode, heating up at the swiftest pace in 18 months, according to data from Markit. The report showed the embattled currency bloc's manufacturing sector growing at the quickest rate in two years in what analysts hope is the beginning of a turnaround.

"The best PMI reading for one-and-a-half years provides encouraging evidence to suggest that the euro area could – at long last – pull out of its recession in the third quarter," Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist said in the report.

However, a report by HSBC showed China's vast manufacturing sector contracting at an even quicker rate in July than the month prior. The government there has put some steps in place to keep the world's No. 2 economy from cooling down too quickly.

The report suggests the "domestic economic weakness driven by deleveraging and tight monetary policy is intensifying and that new orders and new export orders remain in contractionary territory, suggesting more downside pressure on manufacturing production lies ahead," analysts at Nomura wrote to clients.

A report on new home sales is due out at 10:00 a.m ET. Economists expect sales to have ticked up to an annual rate of 482,000 units in June from 476,000 the month before. The housing market has been showing signs of life of late, but the recovery has been choppy.

In commodities, oil futures dipped 5 cents, or 0.05%, to $107.18 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.1% to $3.062 a gallon. Gold rose $6.70, or 0.5%, to $1,342 a troy ounce.

Elsewhere, President Barack Obama is set to lay out his second-term economic plan in a series of speeches kicking off Monday afternoon. Analysts expect what could be another nasty fiscal battle in Washington, D.C.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rallied 1.2% to 2756, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.82% to 6651 and the German DAX jumped 1.2% to 8410.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 dipped 0.32% to 14731 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged up 0.24% to 21969.

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