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Futures Hold Gains; Energy Companies Rise

Wall Street looked set for a higher open Wednesday, after major indexes hit new highs for the year Tuesday, encouraged by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's remarks that the US recession was probably over.

Futures showed little reaction to consumer price index data for August that was close to analyst estimates, particularly when excluding gasoline prices.

Though prices at the pump jumped 9.1 percent in August, core CPI was a tepid 0.1 percent, in line with expectations and indicative that the economy has little to worry about at least in terms of inflation.

The market was awaiting industrial production and captacity utilization numbers due at 9:15.

European stocks were up again, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index hitting 1,000 for the first time since October last year, while Asian stocks closed mixed

Kicking off the day, weekly mortgage applications data showed a decreaseover the Labor Day holiday, perhaps due to a slight uptick in interest rates, though the pace of applications remains at one of the highest levels since June.

Weekly crude inventories data will be released at 10:30 am.

In an energy story that could resonate through the sector, Anadarko Petroleum said it had made a major oil discovery off Sierra Leone. The discovery came from a consortium of companies led by the Houston-based Anadarko.

Anadarko shares jumped more than 5 percent in premarket trading, while other major energy companies also rose.

In corporate news, Lehman Brothers said Barclays Capitalgot a $8.2 billion "windfall profit"from excess assets it took control of when it bought some of the investment bank's units last year when Lehman went bankrupt.

But Barclays says the statement, made in filings to a court, was an "opportunistic claim."

Citigroup shares looked to rebound somewhat following a drop of nearly 9 percent Tuesday, triggered by the government's indication that it could be shedding one-third of its interest in the banking giant. Citi shares gained 3.4 percent in premarket trading.

In merger and acquisition news, Taiwan Mobilewill pay $1 billion to buyCarlyle Group's Taiwanese cable TV business.

Also, Bristol-Myers Squibb said it will sell Asia rights to over-the-counter drugs, as well as its Indonesian unit, to Japan's Taisho Pharmaceutical for $310 million. The moved marked Bristol's seventh deal in an effort to focus on prescription drugs.

Dow component Verizon saw its shares slip 1 percent premarket after UBS downgraded the company to "neutral" from "buy." The telecom faces general pressures on the wireless business, UBS said.

Genworth Financial priced an offering of 48 million shares at $11.75 each, and said 7.2 million more shares would be available to underwriters if there is strong demand. The move sent the insurer's shares up 2.4 percent premarket. The company's shares have been on a meteoric rise since the market's March cratering, when they traded as low as 78 cents.

And Warren Buffett told CNBC he has no regrets about any of the decisions he made one year ago in September when the financial crisis was at its worst.

Buffett said he "looked hard" at an offer that Friday night to buy AIG's property casualty operation in the range of $20 billion to $25 billion, but decided against it.

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