European stocks were higher but pared gains following data that showed the U.K. economy slipped back into recession. Asian shares ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1% to close at 9,561.01.
Wednesday brings the outcome of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting. A change on rates isn't expected, but the Federal Open Market Committee is expected to stick to its promise to keep interest rates at historic lows until at least late 2014. The Fed will announce its decision on rates at 12:30 p.m. EDT.
Also expected Wednesday are durable-goods orders for March at 8:30 a.m., and weekly crude inventories data at 10:30 a.m.
Apple's (AAPL) fiscal second-quarter profit soared 93%, blowing past Wall Street's expectations. Apple earned $12.30 a share in the quarter on revenue of $39.2 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of $10.02 a share on revenue of $36.69 billion. About $22.7 billion of revenue was from sales of the iPhone. Apple said it sold 35.1 million iPhones, 11.8 million iPads, 4 million Macs and 7.7 million iPods in the quarter. Apple forecast third-quarter earnings of $8.68 a share on revenue of $34 billion; analysts currently expect profit of $9.93 a share on revenue of $37.45 billion.
Dow components Boeing (BA) and Caterpillar (CAT) report first-quarter earnings before the opening bell Wednesday.
The Treasury Department's Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, contradicted Wednesday a previous Treasury statement that the bank bailout program was profitable. In a quarterly report to Congress, Christy Romero, the special inspector general, said: "It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion," adding that "taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion (including $14 billion written off or otherwise lost)."
Mitt Romney won primaries in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York on Tuesday night, states he was expected to win and where a total of 231 delegates were at stake. Romney had 698 delegates coming into the primaries. "After 43 primaries and caucuses ... I can say with confidence -- and gratitude -- that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility," Romney said in New Hampshire. "A better America begins tonight," Romney said.
A case of mad cow disease was discovered in a dead dairy cow in California. The finding, announced Tuesday, is the first new case of the disease in the U.S. since 2006, according to The Associated Press Two major South Korean retailers suspended sales of U.S. beef Wednesday, AP reported. -- Written by Joseph Woelfel
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