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) -- U.S. stock futures suggested Wall Street would open higher Wednesday ahead of a report on durable goods for February.

European shares were mostly lower while stocks in Asia declined after consumer confidence in the U.S. slipped slightly in March. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.7% to finish at 10,182.57, a day after the index hit a one-year high.

The U.S. economic calendar on Wednesday features the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly application activity index at 7 a.m. EDT; durable goods orders for February at 8:30 a.m.; and crude inventories at 10 a.m.

Economists call for a 2.8% increase in total durable goods orders, after a decline of 3.7% in January.

France has talked to the U.S. and the U.K. on a possible release of strategic oil stocks to push fuel prices lower, said a report from French newspaper

Le Monde


The newspaper said a release of strategic oil stocks "is a matter of weeks."

Oil prices fell to near $106 a barrel Wednesday in Asia following a larger-than-expected jump in U.S. crude supplies. Crude prices have risen from $75 a barrel in October.

Goldman Sachs

senior executives have talked about splitting the roles of CEO and chairman, reports said, but pressure for such a move may have eased after a union pension fund withdrew its proposal to divide the chairman and CEO jobs after Goldman agreed to change its board structure.

The deal between Goldman and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees means the securities firm will appoint a "lead" director, but shareholders won't get a chance to vote at the firm's annual meeting in May on the proposal to replace Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein with an independent chairman,

The Wall Street Journal


The board of exchange operator

Bats Global Markets

said it supports CEO Joe Ratterman, but wants to split the roles of CEO and chairman.

Ratterman has held both posts since 2007

Bats was forced to pull its initial public offering on Friday following a computer glitch.

"Bats experienced a serious technical failure Friday morning and I want to apologize for not measuring up," said Ratterman, in an email on Sunday.

The board said it supports Ratterman's "leadership, vision and strategic direction as Bats continues to enhance competition and foster innovation in markets worldwide."

Former Lakers star Magic Johnson and long-time baseball executive Stan Kasten are part of a group that agreed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion.

Mark Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Partners, will become the club's controlling owner.

The $2 billion price tag tops the $1.1 billion Stephen Ross paid for the Miami Dolphins in 2009, and the $1.47 billion the Malcolm Glazer family paid for Manchester United in 2005.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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