Stocks Opened Flat Ahead of Bernanke

Stocks opened little changed on Wednesday as investors awaited a second round of testimony in Congress by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for clarity on the longevity of the Fed’s economic stimulus program. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 29.52 points, or 0.21%, to 13,929.65. The S&P 500 index fell 2.23 points, or 0.15%, to 1,499.17. The Nasdaq Composite was up 3.27 points or 0.10%, at 3,132.92.

Bookings for big-ticket U.S. goods slumped in January because of weaker demand for aircraft, but orders were generally strong in other areas of the economy. Orders for durable goods sank 5.2% last month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Italy was forced to pay more to borrow on international markets Wednesday but investors held their nerves after this week’s messy election. Panic was avoided and the bond auction passed off smoothly as the heavily-indebted eurozone country found solid demand for €6.5 billion worth of medium and long-term debt.

Target (TGT) reported quarterly earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street’s expectations on Wednesday. The company posted fourth-quarter earnings excluding items of $1.65 per share, up from $1.43 a share in the year- earlier period. Revenue increased to $22.73 billion from $21.29 billion a year ago.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) said on Tuesday that it plans to cut 17,000 jobs by the end of 2014, representing about 6.6 percent of the company’s overall workforce, as the bank sheds staff that helped it deal with bad home loans.

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