(By Balachander) U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open on the Wall Street as investors weighed mixed quarterly results from several companies, including International Business Machines Corp. and Intel.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 17 points to 13,470. The Nasdaq futures slipped 5 points to 2,760.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 3.40 points to 1,452.60.
On the domestic data front, housing starts in the United States rose 15 percent to 872,000 for September from August, while permits for future building construction increased 11.6 percent to 894,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Economists' expected housing starts at 770,000 and building permits of 810,000.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks rallied following stronger-than-forecast quarterly earnings from companies including, Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) jumped 2.37 percent. The world's most valuable company has invited the media for a "special event" on October 23, where it is rumored to unveil a smaller version of its iPad tablet dubbed "iPad Mini."
Hot Stocks Of The Day: IBM, INTC, TXT, HAL, STJ, LLTC, FTNT, CREE, CYMI
In corporate news, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) shed 3.83 percent after the technology bellwether reduced its earnings guidance for 2012 following lower-than-expected revenue for the third quarter.
Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) retreated 4.30 percent in premarket after the world's largest chip maker reported a fall in quarterly earnings and revenue as macro-economic concerns continue to mute growth and recovery in the semiconductor sector. Results, though, topped market expectations.
Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings on improved credit quality across most major portfolios, higher mortgage banking income and increased investment banking income. Shared edged lower in premarket.
PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) reported a fall in earnings for the third quarter as reported revenue fell in the Europe and AMEA divisions. However, bottom-line topped market expectations. Shares inched higher in premarket.
Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) tumbled 7.37 percent in premarket after the aviation company posted lower-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue amid weak business jet demand and lower volumes. The company lifted its 2012 forecast that trailed market projections.
Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) lost 1.97 percent in premarket after the oilfield services company posted lower quarterly earnings as operating income at one of its segments plunged due to pricing pressure and reduced activity in the North America region.
St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE: STJ) posted a drop in quarterly earnings amid a drop sales of its ICD and pacemaker products and the medical device maker guided fourth quarter slightly below consensus. Shares retreated 6.73 percent in premarket.
Linear Technology Corp. (NASDAQ: LLTC) declined 4.02 percent in premarket after the company forecast a 5 percent to 10 percent sequential decline in second-quarter revenue.
Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT) slumped 15.93 percent after the network security services provider lowered its 2012 forecast and offered a downbeat forecast for the fourth quarter.
Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) jumped 9.67 percent after the maker of LED diodes posted a jump in first-quarter profit of double-digit growth in revenue and margin improvement.
Cymer Inc. (NASDAQ: CYMI) spiked 64.12 percent in premarket after the supplier of light sources for chip manufacturing agreed to be acquired for $2.55 billion by Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML Holding NV.
European markets traded in green, with Germany's DAX up 0.18 percent to trade at 7,389.27. France's CAC40 rose 0.32 percent to trade at 3,512.08. U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.57 percent to trade at 5,904.01.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index added 0.32 percent to end at 2,105.62. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.21 percent to finish at 8.806.55. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.99 percent to close at 21,416.64. India's BSE Sensex finished at 18,610.77, up 0.18 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures gained 0.43 percent to $92.49 per barrel. Gold futures inched up 0.21 percent to $1,749.9 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro gained 0.63 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3135. The British pound advanced 0.34 percent against the greenback to 1.6166, while the dollar slid 0.23 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.7100.