Stocks set to edge up at open

U.S. stocks were set to open slightly higher Wednesday as investors awaited Congressional testimony from Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke.

Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures were narrowly higher, recovering from earlier lows.

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Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins in New York.

U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday after a key gauge of consumer confidence tumbled, reflecting investors’ growing pessimism about the strength of the recovery. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite all lost about 1%.

Erick Maronak, chief investment officer for Victory Capital Management, said that investors are focused on Bernanke’s appearance before Congress, particularly “the pace at which he sits back and withdraws monetary stimulus from the market.”

Fed: Bernanke heads to Capitol Hill for the first of two days of testimony before lawmakers.

The Fed chief is expected to discuss economic and monetary policy. But investors will also be looking for any signs about the Fed’s plans to unwind some of the various emergency programs that were put in place during the crisis.

Companies: Toyota (TM) president Akio Toyoda will appear before the House Oversight Committee to discuss the automaker’s safety record following a massive recall of its vehicles.

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) said it has been notified by the European Commission that three companies have complained about its practices.

Economy: After the opening bell, the Census Bureau will release its January report for new home sales. Sales are expected to have reached an annual rate of 354,000 units last month, according to a consensus of economist opinion from Briefing.com. This would be an increase from 342,000 the prior month.

World markets: European shares were mixed in midday trading Wednesday. Asian stocks finished the session lower. Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.5% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 0.8%.

Cash and bonds: The dollar slipped against the euro, the yen and the pound. The price rose on the 10-year note, pushing down the yield to 3.69%.

Gold and oil: The price of gold fell $10.30 per ounce to $1,092.40. The price of oil eased 24 cents per barrel to $78.62

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