Stocks Rally on China Growth, Bernanke Eyed

U.S. stocks opened moderately higher Wednesday, poised for their first rise in four days and extending gains booked in parts of Europe and Asia, as investors temporarily shrugged off concerns about a European debt default and looked towards Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s upcoming testimony. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 70 points, or 0.6%, to 12,516.93. The S&P 500 added 7.5 points, or 0.6%, to 1,321.43. The Nasdaq Composite rose 22 points, or 0.8%, to 2,804.05.  

Data showed that the Chinese economy grew 9.5% in the second quarter from the same period a year ago, which was slightly above expectations. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.2% and China’s Shanghai Composite climbed 1.5%.

Testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will also be scrutinized for hints of new stimulus measures after June’s dismal U.S. employment report. Prices paid for goods imported into the U.S. fell in June for the first time in a year, largely because of declining fuel costs, according to government data. The cost of imports, usually a key clue to inflationary trends, dropped 0.5% last month, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

Italy will strengthen its package of austerity measures and get it through parliament by Friday, finance minister Giulio Tremonti pledged Wednesday as he sought to calm market fears that the eurozone’s third-largest economy would be swept into the European debt crisis.

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