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Stocks point higher ahead of rush of earnings

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[April 21, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street pointed toward a moderately higher open a day after a steep sell-off as investors await a rush of quarterly earnings reports.

Reports are due Tuesday from Coca-Cola Co., Caterpillar Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and drugmaker Merck & Co.

Investors are looking to the reports for signals about the direction of the economy. Stocks have risen sharply from 12-year lows in early March as traders bet that the economy was beginning to stabilize. But Wall Street's major stock indicators tumbled more than 3 percent Monday as investors grew worried about the well-being of banks grappling with rising levels of bad debt.

Wall Street could get more insight into the troubles at financial companies Tuesday when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appears on Capitol Hill to face questions about his plans to stabilize banks. Geithner is scheduled to testify before the Congressional Oversight Panel for the government's $700 billion financial rescue program.

A watchdog agency warns that Obama administration initiatives could increasingly expose taxpayers to losses.

But in the early going, Wall Street's focus will be on earnings and the forecasts companies provide.

Ahead of the rush of reports, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 11, or 0.1 percent, to 7,831. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 1.50, or 0.2 percent, to 834.40, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 7.50, or 0.6 percent, to 1,321.00.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, was flat at 2.84 percent from late Monday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.14 percent from 0.12 percent Monday.

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In corporate news, DuPont said its first-quarter profit dropped on falling demand. The chemical company also cut its full-year forecast and said it will increase its efforts to cut fixed costs by $1 billion, up from $730 million.

Light, sweet crude rose 12 cents to $46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 2.4 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 0.7 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.4 percent.

[Associated Press; By TIM PARADIS]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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