AWAITING THE ECB

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. stocks pointed to a higher open as investors await comments from the European Central Bank.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), SP 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were higher early Wednesday morning, boosted by upbeat economic figures out of Europe. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Gross domestic product figures for the eurozone and the broader 27-nation European Union were unchanged compared to the end of last year, confirming initial readings. The latest data boosted investor sentiment ahead of the ECB statement, due at 7:45 am ET.

European markets posted strong gains in morning trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 (UKX) rose 1.4%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany gained 1.6% and France’s CAC 40 (CAC40) jumped more than 2%.

Also lifting investors’ global economic outlook, GDP rose 1.3% in Australia, about twice as fast as expected for the country, which depends on commodity exports for much of its economic activities.

Global investors will be listening for comments from the European Central Bank on what additional actions — if any — the institution will take to address the continent’s debt crisis.

The hope is that ECB president Mario Draghi will signal that some sort of rescue effort is in the works, when the central bank holds its monthly meeting in Frankfurt Wednesday. Draghi will hold a press conference at 8:30 a.m. ET.

ECB officials are meeting amid a deepening banking crisis in Spain, and ahead of a pivotal June 17 Greek election that could determine whether the nation remains in the eurozone.

On the domestic front, investors will be watching for the latest outlook on the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve will release its “Beige Book,” a report covering economic activity in its 12 regional districts, at 2 p.m. ET. The report will be the Fed’s first statement on the strength of the U.S. recovery since Friday’s disappointing May jobs report.

U.S. stocks finished higher Tuesday, but gains were limited as investors weighed an upbeat U.S. economic report against Europe’s ongoing debt problems.

World markets: Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) slid 0.1%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong added 1.4% and Japan’s Nikkei (N225) gained 1.8%.

Economy: First-quarter productivity is expected to be revised to -0.8%, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com, from a previous estimate of -0.5%.

Companies: There are reports that Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ) will supposedly tell brokers Wednesday how it will compensate investors for problems with trading, during the Facebook IPO fiasco last month

Facebook (FB) shares edged up 1.6% in early premarket trading Wednesday, after hitting a new low of $25.75 on Tuesday. Shares are still more than 30% below the IPO price of $38, even with the early rise.

Share of data storage firm Iron Mountain Inc (IRM) surged 14% in after-hours trading, following the firm’s announcement that it was increasing its dividend and converting to a Real Estate Investment Trust.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar slid against the euro and the British pound, but gained strength against the Japanese yen.

Oil for July delivery rose 76 cents to $85.05 a barrel.

Gold futures for June delivery climbed $17.10 to $1,634.00 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to just under 1.60% from 1.56% late Tuesday.  To top of page

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