Stocks Mixed ahead of Bernanke Testimony

U.S. stocks quickly turned mixed after a lower open on Wednesday ahead of a second day of Congressional testimony from Bernanke. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately dropped 17.71 points to 12,787.83. The S&P 500 index was up 1.61 points to 1,365.28. The Nasdaq Composite rose 13.56 points to 2,923.60.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts rose 6.9 percent in June from May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000. That’s the highest since October 2008. Single-family housing starts, which account for more than 70 percent of new residential construction, rose for the fourth straight month to a two-year high. Apartment starts, which can be volatile, increased after falling in May.

Bank of America swung to a profit from April through June and beat Wall Street expectations. The bank said Wednesday that it made $2.1 billionin the second quarter, or 19 cents per share.Revenue was $22.2 billion.

Greek coalition leaders agreed to meet next week to hammer out almost 12 billion euros worth of austerity cuts demanded by the near-bankrupt country’s lenders after a deal proved elusive at an initial round of talks on Wednesday.

Some of China’s biggest companies, from tech giants to airlines and retailers, are warning of unexpectedly sharp drops in profit of up to 80 percent, adding to pressure on Beijing to reverse a painful economic slump. On Wednesday, Air China Ltd., one of three main government-owned airlines, warned first-half profit will fall by at least half from a year earlier. State-owned ZTE Corp., one of the world’s biggest producers of telecommunications equipment, is projecting a decline of up to 80 percent.

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