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U.S. stocks were headed for a modest recovery Thursday, after two days of heavy selling, as investors gear up for several U.S. economic reports while keeping a close eye on Japan.
U.S. stocks posted steep losses Wednesday, with all three major indexes hitting their lowest levels of the year. It was an emotional sell-off, sparked by comments made by EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger, who said that Japan's nuclear plants could be in for "possible catastrophic events."
After the market opens, government data on industrial production and capacity utilization in February is on tap. A business research group also releases its index of leading economic indicators, and the Federal Reserve bank of Philadelphia will release a report on manufacturing activity in its district.
Companies: Shares of FedEx (FDX) rose 4% in pre-market trading after the shipping giant issued an earnings forecast that topped analysts' forecasts and said it still expected moderate economic growth this year. FedEx is viewed as an economic bellwether because of its size and global presence.
After the market closes, athletic footwear and apparel maker Nike (NKE) will post results.
Oil for April delivery gained $2 to $99.99 a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $7.20 to $1,403.30 an ounce.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 3.21%.
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