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Stocks Futures Rise; Gold Hits New High

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a stronger open Wednesday, the morning after minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's last meeting showed that members debated whether to make adjustments to its quantitative easing program before June 2011.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 71 points, or 67 points above fair value, at 12,344. Futures for the S&P 500 were higher by 9 points, or 8 points above fair value, at 1336, and Nasdaq futures were ahead by 20 points, or 17 points above fair value.

A takeover in the semiconductor sector and high commodity prices helped U.S. indices finish Tuesday's session with mild gains.

On Tuesday afternoon, minutes from the FOMC's March policy-setting meeting showed that most participants did not anticipate making adjustments to the $600 billion bond program before its intended completion but that a few members believed that the speedier recovery warranted tapering the size of the program. The minutes also reflected a shift in the central bank attitude toward inflation as policymakers vowed to pay close attention to inflation expectations in addition to headline and core inflation.

Gold hit a new high as the June contract soared to $1,457.90 an ounce. It was last up by $8.50 at $1,461 an ounce.

Shares of Monsanto (MON - Get Report) were trading 1.9% higher at $75.01 during the premarket session after the agricultural products company topped analysts' estimates by 3 cents with earnings from ongoing business of $1.87 a share and confirmed full-year earnings guidance on an as-reported basis in the range of $2.66 to $2.79 a share.

Power technology company American Superconductor (AMSC - Get Report) saw its stock drop 39.7% to $15 ahead of Wednesday's opening bell after the company said its primary revenue stream, Chinese wind power company Sinovel, has stopped taking shipments .

Dish Network (DISH - Get Report) won a bankruptcy auction for movie rental company Blockbuster (BLOAQ.PK) with a winning bid valued at $320 million.

Drug company Cephalon (CEPH) rejected an unsolicited bid of $73 a share from Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX - Get Report).

Genpact (G) , which offers business and industry-specific services, agreed to acquire Headstrong, a consulting and IT services company, for $550 million in cash.

Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart will make closing remarks at the bank's Financial Markets Conference in Stone Mountain, Georgia, at 12 p.m. ET.

Oil prices were still trading above $108 a barrel with the May contract down by 29 cents to trade at $108.05 a barrel.

At 10:30 a.m., the Energy Information Administration is expected to report a build of 1.3 million barrels to crude oil inventories in the week ended April 1, according to a Platts survey of analysts.

Late Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute said crude stocks shed 2.8 million barrels.
Oil

London's FTSE was gaining 0.6%, and the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 0.7%. Earlier, Japan's Nikkei lost 0.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.6%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 4/32, lifting the yield to 3.463%. The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies with the dollar index up by 0.04%.

. --Written by Melinda Peer in New York.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AMSC $4.67 0.00%
DISH $59.62 0.00%
MON $98.38 0.00%
VRX $236.12 0.00%
AAPL $113.29 0.00%

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Chart of I:DJI
DOW 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
S&P 500 1,988.87 +1.21 0.06%
NASDAQ 4,828.3250 +15.6170 0.32%

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