There was before, and there was after ... Apple.
The tech sector has been under pressure the past five days, with the Nasdaq losing 2.7% in that time, while Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares have given up 7.4%. The declines came to a shrieking halt this morning. Futures are poised to open higher, with the Nasdaq indicating a 50 point jump at the start.
Investors are thanking Apple. The world's most valuable company posted its best March quarter ever with sales of $39.2 billion, crushing analyst expectations by all measures.
Apple sold 11.8 million iPads during the quarter, making the iPad its fastest selling device yet. With the third edition of the iPad now on store shelves and the iPad 2 dropping in price, Apple's revenue per iPad dropped to $558 in the quarter, which was down from $593 in the previous quarter. Still, Apple's overall margins were strong at 47.4%.
It sold 35 million iPhones, 7.7 million iPods, and some 4 million Mac computers.
Apple shares are up 10%, topping $614 in the pre market. shy of the all-time high of $644.
Investors will also be looking to the Federal Reserve for direction. The Fed will release a statement after its interest rate- and policy-setting meeting at 12:30pm ET. Interest rates have been parked near zero since December of 2008 and are expected to stay there through 2014.
But investors will be looking for anything the Fed says about further monetary stimulus. If there is concern that high unemployment and/or the weak housing market will inhibit the recovery, Fed officials may find it necessary to keep pumping up the economy through monetary injections.
After today's announcement, the Fed will release its forecasts at 2:00 p.m. ET, and Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a press conference explaining those forecasts 15 minutes later.
Overseas, the UK economy has officially double-dipped into recession. British GDP contracted 0.2% in the first quarter after shrinking by 0.3% in the previous quarter. It is the first double-dip recession since the 1970s for Britain.
U.S. GDP estimates for the first quarter are due out Friday. Economists are looking for growth of 2.5%.