U.S. stocks higher as markets eye data, Bernanke; Dow Jones up 0.28%


Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened higher on Wednesday, after positive U.S. durable goods orders data and as investors eyed comments by Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke, although concerns over Italy's political woes continued to weigh.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.28%, the S&P 500 index added 0.28%, while the Nasdaq Composite index edged up 0.24%.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders dropped 5.2% in January, compared to expectations for a decline of 4.4%.

Core durable goods orders, which exclude volatile transportation items, rose 1.9% last month, compared to expectations for a 0.2% increase.

Investors were looking ahead to a second day of Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke later in the trading day. Bernanke defended the bank's easing program on Tuesday, saying that the benefits outweighed the possible costs.

In the financial sector, shares were broadly higher. Citigroup edged up 0.05% and Goldman Sachs climbed 0.86%, while Bank of America jumped 0.99% and JP Morgan rallied 1.97%.

Among earnings, Coach surged 5.27% amid reports that the upscale retailer is exploring a sale of itself. Separately, the company said it has hired a former Nike executive to oversee the transformation of its stores.

Adding to gains, Dollar Tree soared 8.93% tafter the discount retailer posted earnings and revenue that exceeded expectations.

On the downside, Target tumbled 2.11%, even as the retailer posted quarterly results that topped expectations for the holiday quarter. Investors remained concerned however, over the company's ability to reach its forecast, given its large-scale expansion plans in Canada.

Elsewhere, solar panel maker First Solar dove 14.89% after posting revenue and outlook tbelow market expectations. In addition, Baird cut its rating on the company to "neutral" from "outperform".

Apple shares also traded lower, dropping 0.80%, ahead of the company's shareholders meeting. On Tuesday, shares were boosted by speculation the iPhone maker could announce plans to enhance shareholder value.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The EURO STOXX 50 climbed 0.80%, France's CAC 40 jumped 1.09%, Germany's DAX advanced 0.55%, while Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.25%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up 0.25%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 1.27%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish official data on pending home sales later Wednesday, while European Central Bank President Mario Draghi was to speak an event in Germany.

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