By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures turned higher Wednesday after the previous session's rout, with fears over prospects for Southern Europe contagion balanced by strong earnings reports ahead of an interest-rate decision from the Federal Reserve.
After early losses, S&P 500 futures rose 4.3 points to 1,185.30 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6.75 points to 2,015.50. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 31 points.TODAY'S INTERNATIONAL MARKET STORIES
Global Dowâ¢ MarketWatch Topics: Greece â¢ Asia Markets | Europe Markets | LatAm Markets â¢ Canadian Markets | Israel Stocks | London â¢ U.S.: Market Snapshot | After Hours
Earnings â¢ Royal Dutch Shell profit surges 57% â¢ BP reports profit surge as it battles oil spill â¢ Infineon swings to profit, raises revenue outlook â¢ SAP sticks to outlook as profit nearly doubles/conga/story/misc/international.html 73302
U.S. stocks got hammered Tuesday, after Standard & Poor's downgraded Greece to junk status and also lowered the boom on Portugal's credit rating. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 213 points, the Nasdaq Composite lost 51 points and the S&P 500 fell 28 points.
Asian markets also were pressured Wednesday.
Southern Europe again was the focus of investors, with Spain's IBEX 35 down over 2% in midday trade. See Europe Markets.
Essentially untradeable two-year Greek debt had yields north of 30%. Outside of gold, which edged up $2 an ounce, most metals futures dropped. The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 82.20, +0.05, +0.06%) rose 0.3% as investors sought safe assets.
"Risk aversion appears to be increasing, with gold and the dollar picking up simultaneously again and equity markets nose-diving," said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodity research at Commerzbank, in a note to clients.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will hold a press conference on Wednesday with Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, at around 9 a.m. Eastern time, as questions linger on whether Germany will participate in making loans to Greece as part of a joint IMF-European Union package and whether the IMF will up their portion.
According to MarketWatch's Mark Hulbert, stock markets generally respond well to sovereign debt fallouts.
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On average the stock market was 17% higher in one year's time, as measured by the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index, and even with Tuesday's fall, the reaction to the Greek crisis puts the market ahead of the Mexico peso devaluation, the Asian contagion, the Russian ruble devaluation and the Argentine debt/currency crisis at similar points. See full story.
Meanwhile, Fed officials are due to make known the central bank's decision on U.S. interest-rate policy at 2:15 p.m. Eastern, with the attention on whether the Fed maintains that interest rates will be exceptionally low "for an extended period."
Dow Chemical /quotes/comstock/13*!dow/quotes/nls/dow (DOW 30.07, -1.26, -4.02%) rose 1.4% in premarket trade as the chemicals giant's first-quarter results topped analyst estimates.
Royal Dutch Shell /quotes/comstock/13*!rds.a/quotes/nls/rds.a (RDS.A 61.07, -0.11, -0.18%) also reported stronger-than-forecast results, while Sprint Nextel's /quotes/comstock/13*!s/quotes/nls/s (S 4.09, -0.14, -3.31%) shares fell after reporting a loss.
PNC Financial Services /quotes/comstock/13*!pnc/quotes/nls/pnc (PNC 66.09, -0.68, -1.02%) may be active as the Treasury Department said it plans to sell 16.9 million warrants in the Pittsburgh-based lender.
Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.