NEW YORK — Stock rose Wednesday as Kraft Foods raised its full-year profit forecast for the second time in two months..
The early gains in stocks came as traders followed the start of congressional testimony about the financial crisis by heads of Wall Street's biggest banks.
Asian markets fell as China's moves Tuesday to curb bank lending stoked concerns that the pace of the global economic recovery may slow. China's actions contributed to a stock slide on Tuesday.
In the U.S., investors sold shares of Google Inc. after the Internet search company threatened to withdraw from China. The company said it will no longer censor its search results in the country after finding that computer hackers had led human-rights activists to reveal their e-mail accounts to outsiders. Google's public complaints were a rare show of protest in the country and an about-face for the company that long said it would abide by Chinese laws that block some political and socially sensitive content.
Kraft, which is in a hostile takeover fight for candy maker Cadbury PLC, raised its forecast late Tuesday citing strong operating gains.
Meanwhile, investors tracked appearances by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chairman-CEO Lloyd Blankfein, JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO James Dimon, Morgan Stanley Chairman John Mack and Bank of American Corp. CEO-President Brian Moynihan before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. It is the first meeting of the bipartisan, 10-member panel, which is investigating the near collapse of the financial system in the fall of 2008.
Their appearance comes as public discord over big bank profits and bonuses has the White House considering placing a levy on banks to cover about $120 billion in taxpayer losses from a government Wall Street bailout fund. Opponents say it could jeopardize a recovery by America's biggest banks.
Scott Colyer, chief executive at Advisors Asset Management in Monument, Colorado, is concerned that imposing a tax on banks would threaten his expectation for a strong economic rebound in 2010. "You don't want to take money from a group that you're trying to prop up," he said.
In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 25.62, or 0.2 percent, to 10,652.88. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.92, or 0.2 percent, to 1,138.14, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 3.44, or 0.2 percent, to 2,285.75.
Earlier, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.3 percent, China's Shanghai index fell 3.1 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 2.6 percent. Stocks were mixed in Europe.
On Tuesday, the Dow fell 37 points, or 0.3 percent, while the S&P 500 index lost 0.9 percent in its first drop of 2010. The Nasdaq composite index lost 1.3 percent. The drop came on concern about China's bank policies and downbeat quarterly results from aluminum producer Alcoa Inc.
Bond prices fell, pushing yields higher, after jumping Tuesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.74 percent from 3.72 percent late Tuesday.
Crude oil fell 94 cents to $79.85 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The dollar slipped against most other major currencies, while gold rose.
An improvement in demand for mortgages failed to lift homebuilder stocks. The Mortgage Bankers Association said mortgage application volume rose 14.3 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. A four-week average is down 6.4 percent.
Google fell $7.93, or 1.3 percent, to $582.55, while Baidu rose $43.94, or 11.4 percent, to $430.43.
Kraft rose 71 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $30.
Later Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to release its Beige Book, which provides readings on the U.S. economy by region. The report, which is due at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT), arrives two weeks before policymakers' next meeting.
The Treasury Department also will release budget numbers. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expect the deficit will total $389 billion, topping the imbalance of $332 billion recorded for the same period last year. (AP)