Stocks set for a higher start following Obama's comments

U.S. stocks seemed set for a higher open Wednesday morning following President Obama's comments Tuesday evening and ahead of the release of some economic data today, including durable orders and new home sales.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama claimed early progress in his administration's attempts to improve the economy. He said that despite obstacles ahead, "we're moving in the right direction." Obama also toned down his criticism of bonuses to executives at bailed-out companies.

Also on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sought broader powers to regulate and even take over financial goliaths. They said the situation at AIG demonstrated a need to regulate complex nonbank financial institutions just as banks are regulated. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve will start purchasing long-term Treasuries today, in a $300 billion effort.

Overseas, world stocks were mixed Wednesday due to the weakness on Wall Street Tuesday. Affecting global markets was a record plunge-- nearly by half -- in Japanese exports in February, as well as the German business climate index, which slipped again in March.

As for oil, crude prices declined to just over $53 a barrel Wednesday along with global stock markets and on signs of building crude inventories. At 10:30 a.m. ET, weekly crude inventories are due out, a day after the American Petroleum Institute showed a build up of crude stock. Analysts expect a build up of 1.4 million barrels in commercial crude oil stocks in the U.S.

Economic releases today include February durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m. ET and at 10:00 a.m., February new home sales are due out.

Speeches are also due from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto and San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen will speak in early afternoon.

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