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US Indexes Remain Firm at Session's Half; Eyes Ahead to Fed Beige Book

Stocks are firm on their early surge levels following coordinated action from the world's central banks designed to improve global liquidity. U.S. economic data served to further buoy sentiment with better-than-expected numbers on jobs portending a bullish reading from non-farm payrolls due on Friday. Investors looked ahead to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which is due at 2 PM EST.

Measures of production, new orders and order backlogs grew according to data released this morning as the Chicago PMI rose to 62.6% from 58.4% in October - a seven-month high - according to a MarketWatch report. A reading over 50% indicates expansion.

Also this morning, private-sector payrolls increased 206,000 in November -- the largest gain since last December -- led by the service-producing sector and small businesses, according to the ADP employment report released Wednesday. The October level was revised up to 130,000 from a prior estimate of 110,000.

China's central bank said it would lower banks' reserve-requirement ratio by 0.5 percentage point in an attempt to boost the economy, lifting American and European Stocks. Stock futures had fallen earlier after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services late Tuesday lowered its ratings on more than a dozen global banks, as the ratings company applied its revised criteria to 37 banks in total. Several big U.S. banks, including Bank of America ,J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, and Citigroup Inc. saw their ratings cut.

In Brussels, euro-zone finance ministers agreed late Tuesday to approve the next disbursement of aid to Greece. They also agreed to expand the euro-zone bailout fund.

Shares of home builders are higher as the National Association of Realtors said this morning that pending home sales in October rose 10.4% to a reading of 93.3, according to a MarketWach report. A 100 index reading indicates average contract activity during 2001.

Commodities are higher as January gold contracts are up 1.69% to $1,748 an ounce while January crude oil contacts are up 1.03% to $100.82 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund ( USO ) is up 1.09% to $38.97 and the United States Natural Gas fund ( UNG ) is down 1.88%, to $7.85.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD ) is up 1.72% to $169.77. Market Vectors Gold Miners ( GDX ) is up 4.89% to $59.23. iShares Silver Trust ( SLV ) is up 2.8% to $31.90.

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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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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