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U.S. stocks were headed for early gains Wednesday, as investors sort through the latest corporate results ahead of a highly anticipated press conference at the Federal Reserve.
U.S. stocks finished at their highest levels in three years Tuesday, as investors cheered another batch of solid earnings and a better-than-expected report on consumer confidence.
Investors will turn their attention to tight-lipped Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's first of what will become four regular press conferences a year.
The speech and question-and-answer session will follow the Fed's two-day meeting on monetary policy.
While the Fed's Open Market Committee is not expected to raise interest rates, investors are hoping to get some sense of how soon the central bank could move to tighten its easy money stance.
Companies: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) said it will buy Synthes, a Swiss maker of orthopedic devices, for $21.3 billion. Shares of J&J eased about 1% before the opening bell.
Shares of Dow component Boeing (BA) edged higher in premaket trading after the aeronautics company said it earned 78 cents per share in the first quarter, up from 70 cents a year earlier. Analysts were expecting 70 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters.
BP (BP) reported first-quarter earnings of $1.75 per U.S.-listed share, down from $1.79 per share in the year-ago quarter. The British oil company was expected to report $1.82 per share.
Amazon.com (AMZN)'s stock fell 2% in premarket trading after the online merchant reported first-quarter earnings that fell by one-third compared to a year earlier and sharply missed Wall Street forecasts.
After the close, Starbucks (SBUX) reports results. The coffee retailer is expected to earn 34 cents a share.
Oil for May delivery gained 44 cents to $112.66 a barrel.
Gold futures for June delivery rose $3.10 to $1,506.70 an ounce.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury held steady, with the yield unchanged from Tuesday at 3.32%.
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