US stocks finished slightly higher Wednesday as investors calibrated two positive readings on the U.S. economy against hopes for more help from the Federal Reserve. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 4.49 points, or 0.03%, to 13107.48 for its first gain in three days.
The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index added 1.19 points, or 0.08%, to 1410.49. European stock markets ended a volatile Wednesday trading session on a downbeat note, with banks and miners leading declines, although well-received U.S. economic growth data had briefly sent stocks into positive territory. The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.1% to close at 267.01.
The Australian market is set to open slightly lower as investors remain timid ahead of a highly anticipated speech from US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke at the end of the week. World markets were mixed overnight, posting either slight gains or modest falls. At 0717 AEST on Thursday, the September share price index futures contract was down 10 points at 4,342