Stocks Started Off Shaky on Downbeat Bernanke Views

Stocks were mixed after a lower start on Wednesday, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economy did not grow as much as had been hoped this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately gained 5.37 points to 12,076.18. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 1.86 points at 1,283.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 11.08 points at 2,690.48.

Bernanke said that U.S. economic growth has been “somewhat slower” than expected, but gave no indication that the Fed could launch a third round of quantitative easing.

OPEC producers worked at a deal on Wednesday to raise oil supplies for the first time in four years to support the fragile world economy. Under pressure from consumer countries to contain fuel inflation, Saudi Arabia hopes to convince the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to lift production by as much as 1.5 million barrels a day, Gulf delegates said.

Crude-oil futures turned positive Wednesday. Crude for July delivery added 59 cents, or 0.6%, to $99.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. OPEC members are scheduled to announce a decision during a press release scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Eastern.

A new report says that China has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest consumer of energy. Oil company BP said Wednesday that China moved to the top in 2010 with 20.3 percent of global demand, ahead of the United States at 19 percent.

Unemployment in debt-ridden Greece hit new record highs in March. The jobless rate increased to 16.2 percent in March from 15.9 percent in February, the country’s statistics agency said Wednesday.

Fast-food chain McDonald’s Corp. said Wednesday that its global comparable sales at all restaurants in operation at least 13 months rose 3.1% in May. Sales rose 2.4% in the U.S., up 2.3% in Europe and gained 4.3% in Asia, Middle East and Africa. Systemwide sales for the month increased 12%, or 4.7% excluding the currency impact.

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