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Stocks set to advance

By CNNMoney.com staff

NEW YORK(CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were headed for gains Wednesday, driven by strong earnings from Intel and JPMorgan Chase as well as increased consumer confidence from the Chinese trade report.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were higher ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

Hamed Khorsand, analyst at BWF Financial, said that China's trade balance was a key factor in driving pre-market trading.

"With the trade balance increasing, it's basically viewed as the global economy getting better," he said. "It's from a consumption standpoint. People are buying more Chinese goods. That means that the U.S. and other countries are consuming more."

Stocks recovered from early losses Tuesday to end the session slightly higher after minutes from the Fed's latest meeting suggested central bank policymakers are prepared to implement additional measures to bolster the economy.

Companies: JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) reported earnings of $4.4 billion, an increase of 23% from the year-earlier quarter, as its loan losses continued to decline.

The financial firm's stock edged up more than 1% in pre-market trading.

On Tuesday, chipmaker Intel (INTC, Fortune 500), reported a rise in quarterly sales and profit. Shares rose 1.4% in premarket trading.

Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) stock surged in pre-market trading to more than $300 per share, an increase of about 40% year-to-date, driven by the success of its iPad and iPhone.

Economy: U.S. import prices fell 0.3% in September, according to U.S. government figures. The price of fuel imports led the decline, falling 3.1%.

Export prices rose in September by 0.6%, following a rise of 0.8% the prior month. This was driven by agricultural import prices, which rose 2.4%.

World markets: European markets were sharply higher. The FTSE 100 gained 1.4%, while the CAC 40 in Paris and Germany's DAX rose 1.8%.

In Asia, stocks closed in positive territory. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong shot up 1.5% and the Shanghai Composite gained 0.7%. Japan's Nikkei edged higher 0.2%.

China posted a trade surplus of $16.9 billion for September, as exports climbed 25% and imports rose 24%. That's down from a $20 billion surplus in August.

But the drop was not enough to ease tensions between the China and the United States, which has been pressuring China to allow its currency to appreciate against the dollar because an undervalued yuan hurts U.S. manufacturers by undercutting their export prices.

"China's overall trade surplus may have declined slightly last month, but tensions are unlikely to do the same," said Mark Williams, senior China economist at Capital Economic.

Commodities and Currencies: The dollar slipped against the major international currencies, including the British pound, the Japanese yen and the euro.

Gold futures for December delivery surged $14.3 to $1,361 an ounce.

The price of oil rose $1.07 per barrel to $82.74.

Treasurys: The price fell on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury, pushing up the yield to 2.45% from 2.42% late Tuesday. To top of page

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Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,776.43 304.06 1.85%
Nasdaq 4,781.26 73.48 1.56%
S&P 500 1,987.05 35.69 1.83%
Treasuries 2.06 0.07 3.37%
Data as of 6:19pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 26.82 1.35 5.30%
Dow Chemical Co 46.31 1.86 4.18%
Bank of America Corp... 15.69 0.31 2.02%
Micron Technology In... 17.57 1.66 10.43%
Apple Inc 110.78 0.40 0.36%
Data as of 4:00pm ET