Stocks Sitting Higher as Investors Awaait Fed Beige Book; Gold Falls Nearly 3%

Stocks are higher in mid-day trading after yesterday's sharp pullback, but the market could swing on the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, a snapshot of economic conditions in each of its districts that will be released at 2:00 p.m. ET. Economic concerns remain at the fore for the markets while Washington awaits President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress tomorrow night.

News reports Wednesday indicated that President Obama will propose injecting $300 billion into the economy next year through a mix of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and aid to local governments and will propose the plan in a speech to Congress Thursday. Bloomberg says Obama will propose that the costs are offset by raising tax revenue in later years.

In company news:

Shares of Bank of America ( BAC ) are higher after the company reported in the late extended session that it appointed David Darnell and Tom Montag to the newly-created positions of co-chief operating officers.

Yahoo ( YHOO ) is seeing firm gains in the wake of the company's confirmation it fired CEO Carol Bartz and replaced her with interim CEO Timothy Morse, the company's current CFO. A Wall Street Journal report quoted one insider as saying Yahoo's board is open to selling the company to the right bidder.

Shares of Chevron ( CVX ) are higher in regular-session trading after the company announced late yesterday that it discovered an oil reserve at the Moccasin prospect in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The well is located approximately 216 miles off the Louisiana coast in 6,759 feet of water and was drilled to a depth of 31,545 feet.

Citigroup ( C ) is higher after Chairman Richard Parsons told CNBC this morning he sees no need for an executive shakeup like Bank of America's ( BAC ). Parson said Citi is holding its own in the bad economy. "I can be definitive there, because I think actually Citi is doing, in a down market and an ugly sector, reasonably well, believe it or not," he told the cable network.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ ) are firm after the company's prostate-cancer treatment Zytiga received approval from European regulators, The Wall Street Journal reports. The green light follows earlier approval in April of the drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Shares of Nvidia (NVDA) are sharply higher after the company said in Tuesday's after-hours session that it expects FY 2013 revenue of $4.7 to $5.0 bln, vs. the analyst consensus of $4.45 bln. It expects GAAP and non-GAAP gross margins of approximately 51 percent to 53 percent. Nvidia further anticipates GAAP operating expenses of $1.54 billion to $1.61 billion, and non-GAAP operating expenses of $1.38 billion to $1.43 billion. Non-GAAP operating expenses are expected to exclude stock-based compensation expense, amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets and other acquisition-related costs.

Shares of McDonald's (MCD) are just lower, while the company today announced it is investing $1 billion to undertake its biggest Canadian store brand transformation in the company's 44-year history in that country, focusing on re-invigorating the look, feel and function of the majority of its more than 1,400 restaurants across the country.

Commodities are mixed. December gold contracts are down 2.95% to $1,818 an ounce while October crude oil contacts are up 3.62% to $89.09 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is up 2.86% to $34.55 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is up 1.82%, to $10.08.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is down 3.29% to $176.89. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is down 0.84% to $64.77. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is down 1.85% to $40.29.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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