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U.S. stock-index futures swung slightly higher after Fed Chairman Bernanke said the central bank doesn't have a 'preset course' for its exit from its massive bond-buying program.
As of 8:42 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 15 points to 15407, S&P 500 futures gained 4.3 points to 1676 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 8.3 points to 3079.
The S&P 500 snapped an eight-day winning streak on Tuesday, receding from record highs amid hawkish commentary from a key Federal Reserve official. The focus was expected to remain squarely on the central bank Wednesday.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in prepared remarks to Congress, the central bank’s plans to begin trimming down its bond buying are not "on a preset course" and QE will continue until there is "substantial improvement" in the labor market.
The Beige Book, which is the Fed's anecdotal look at how the economy is performing across its dozen districts, is also due out on the day.
Also on the economic front, the Commerce Department reported housing starts fell 9.9% in June to an annual rate of 836,000 units, widely missing expectations of 959,000. It was also the lowest reading since August 2012. Housing permits fell 7.5% to an annual rate of 911,000 units, missing expectations of 1 million.
In corporate news, Bank of America (BAC) revealed second-quarter results that beat analysts' expectations on the top and bottom lines, sending shares of the No. 2 U.S. bank by assets rising. Yahoo! (YHOO) posted mixed results after the bell on Tuesday. Earnings from American Express (AXP), IBM (IBM), Intel (INTC) and eBay (EBAY) are due out after the closing bell.
Meanwhile, oil prices dipped 7 cents, or 0.06%, to $105.94 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline sold off by 1.2% to $3.096 a gallon. In metals, gold slumped $4.40, or 0.34%, to $1,288 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.1% to 2682, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.1% to 6563 and the German DAX gained 0.41% to 8235.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 climbed 0.11% to 14615 and the Chinese Hang Seng tilted higher by 0.28% to 21372.