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Apple gives Wall Street relief; Fed, Facebook loom

U.S. stock index futures signaled a slightly higher open on Wednesday, with European stocks boosted early in the day after Apple smashed analyst expectations by selling almost 9 million more iPhones than anticipated.

The tech giant's fourth quarter results, reported after the close of markets on Tuesday, beat on both the top and bottom lines in its fourth quarter results.

A trader works on the floor of the NYSE as Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks on television during a June news conference.
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A trader works on the floor of the NYSE as Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks on television during a June news conference.

In Europe, investors cheered the results, with German-listed shares of Apple rising up to 6 percent in Wednesday's morning session. This helped shares of Apple suppliers like ARM Holdings, which climbed 3.4 percent in early deals.

Back in the U.S., all eyes will be on the Federal Open Markets Committee decision, due out at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, which is expected to bring no change to policy or forecasts, and no post-meeting press conference. However investors will be listen closely for any comment on oil markets, given the near-$10 per barrel drop in the oil price since the Committee met in mid-December.

The post-meeting statement will also be monitored for any changes in wording compared to last month, when it stated that it would be "patient" in deciding when to raise rates.

In addition, Wednesday will bring more big name earnings with Boeing, Anthem, General Dynamics, St. Jude Medical, T. Rowe Price and Tupperware amongst the firms posting fourth quarter earnings before market open.

Facebook, Qualcomm, Tractor Supply, Vertex Pharma, Flextronics are all due after the bell.

Yahoo will also be in focus Wednesday, after the group said it plans to spin-off its 15 percent stake in China's Alibaba Tuesday. Shares of Yahoo jumped 7 percent in after-hours trade following the announcement.

Back in Europe, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras named a cabinet of anti-austerity veterans and halted privatization of Greece's biggest port on Tuesday, signalling his intention to stick to election pledges, despite warning shots from the euro zone and financial markets, Reuters reported.

In oil markets, Saudi Arabia signaled that it would not change its stance on oil production Tuesday, following a meeting between King Salman and U.S. President Barack Obama during which they discussed stability in the oil market.