By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures edged higher Wednesday, with the Federal Reserve in the spotlight ahead of two speeches from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as well as the central bank's anecdotal report on the economy.
Turning up from early losses, S&P 500 futures rose 3.2 points to 1,062.40 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 5.75 points to 1,797.20. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 22 points.
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U.S. stocks closed mostly higher Tuesday, helped by Bernanke's cautious endorsement of the economic recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 123 points higher -- helped also by the regulatory approval of a soybean from blue chip DuPont -- though the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ended marginally in the red.
The Fed chief will be back in the spotlight as he testifies on economic conditions at 10 a.m. Eastern and is due to deliver a speech, as markets close, at an employment conference.
The Fed also will release its Beige Book at 2 p.m. Eastern, the closely watched report on how the central bank is seeing the economy. Traders also will begin speculating on central bank decisions from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England over the next 24 hours.
"Risk appetite appears to have recovered somewhat, but we continue to see this as mere short-covering ahead of some crucial policy decisions in the next 24 hours," said currency analysts from UBS.
The Treasury is selling $21 billion of 10-year notes.
Overseas, the Shanghai Composite climbed 2.8% on a report from Reuters, citing sources briefed by a senior government official, that Chinese exports surged about 50% in May. There also were expectations in the market that China's government was working to make sure the upcoming Agricultural Bank of China initial public offering will be a success as Chinese banking stocks rallied.
There were also a few deals to consider. Bank of America /quotes/comstock/13*!bac/quotes/nls/bac (BAC 15.33, +0.50, +3.37%) said it was selling its 25% stake in a Mexican operation of Banco Santander /quotes/comstock/13*!std/quotes/nls/std (STD 8.95, +0.18, +2.05%) back to the Spanish lender for $2.5 billion.
Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions /quotes/comstock/15*!mdrx/quotes/nls/mdrx (MDRX 18.42, -0.25, -1.34%) said it is buying Eclipsys /quotes/comstock/15*!eclp/quotes/nls/eclp (ECLP 18.51, -0.23, -1.23%) for $1.3 billion in stock, as the company also is buying most of the stake held by Britain's Misys /quotes/comstock/23s!a:msy (UK:MSY 261.00, +37.50, +16.78%) for more than $1.3 billion.
Texas Instruments /quotes/comstock/13*!txn/quotes/nls/txn (TXN 23.88, +0.21, +0.89%) will be in the spotlight after the microchip maker upped the low end of its second quarter profit and sales outlook.
The Stoxx Europe 600 see-sawed and moved 0.8% higher in early afternoon trade.
Oil futures rose to nearly $73 a barrel, and gold futures fell by around $10 an ounce.
The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2009, +0.0038, +0.3174%) continued to trade below the $1.20 mark.
Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.