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Stocks May Move Modestly Higher At The Open - U.S. Commentary

Stocks may move back to the upside in early trading on Wednesday after ending the previous session modestly lower. The major index futures are currently pointing to a slightly higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 11 points.

The markets may once again benefit from remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who reiterated in an interview with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer that the Fed is keeping its options open regarding further actions to boost the economy.

While Bernanke acknowledged that much of the recent economic news has been good, he noted that it is "far too early to declare victory."

Traders are also digesting a report from the Commerce Department showing a rebound in U.S. durable goods orders in the month of February, although orders rose by somewhat less than anticipated.

The report showed that durable goods orders rose by 2.2 percent in February following a revised 3.6 percent decrease in January. Economists had expected orders to increase by 2.9 percent compared to the 3.7 percent drop that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding a 3.9 percent increase in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders increased by a more modest 1.6 percent in February compared to a 3.0 percent decrease in January. The increase in ex-transportation orders came in slightly above economist estimates for a 1.5 percent increase.

After showing a lack of direction throughout much of the session, stocks moved to the downside going into the close of trading on Tuesday, ending the day mostly lower.

The major averages all ended the day in the red but posted only modest losses. The Dow slipped 43.90 points or 0.3 percent to 13,197.73, the Nasdaq edged down 2.22 points or 0.1 percent to 3,120.35 and the S&P 500 dipped 3.99 points or 0.3 percent to 1,412.52.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, while China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled by 2.7 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 0.4 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are falling $1.33 to $106 a barrel after advancing $0.30 to $107.33 a barrel on Tuesday. An ounce of gold is currently valued at $1,675.60, down $9.30 from the previous session's close of $1,684.90. On Tuesday, gold edged down $0.70.

Among currencies, the U.S. dollar is trading at 83.01 yen compared to the 83.18 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.3326 compared to yesterday's $1.3316.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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