* Fed Chairman Bernanke to speak at 10:00 a.m. ET
* U.S. business spending plans gauge hits one-year high in
* Italy bonds, European stocks up after Italy bond auction
* Major indexes open flat
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Feb 27 Wall Street opened little
changed as investors awaited a second round of testimony in
Congress by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for clarity on
the longevity of the Fed's economic stimulus program.
Calming some jitters over the euro zone, Italian debt prices
and European stocks rose on Wednesday after Italy sold the
maximum amount of bonds it planned to offer in a debt auction
though borrowing costs soared.
Bernanke will make his second appearance before the
Financial Services Committee at 10:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).
"The market got what it wanted yesterday from the Fed, so,
as long as (Bernanke) doesn't say anything new, the market is
likely to remain as status quo," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manger of
trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
A day earlier, Bernanke strongly defended the Fed's monetary
stimulus efforts before Congress, easing financial market
worries over an early retreat from the Fed's bond buying
program, which had been triggered by minutes of the Fed's
January meeting released a week ago.
His remarks, along with data showing sales of new homes hit
a 4 1/2-year high, helped U.S. stocks rebound Tuesday from their
worst decline since November.
Despite the bounce, the S&P 500 was unable to move back
above 1,500, a closely watched level that had been technical
support until recently, but may now prove a resistance point.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.76 points,
or 0.01 percent, to 13,901.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
dropped 0.36 points, or 0.02 percent, to 1,496.58. The
Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.70 points, or 0.02
percent, to 3,130.34.
The benchmark S&P 500, up 6 percent for the year, was within
reach of record highs a week ago, before the minutes from the
Fed's January meeting were released. Since then, the index has
shed 1 percent as the minutes raised questions about whether the
Fed may slow or halt its economy-stimulating measures soon.
Economic data was in focus with homes data due out at 10:00
a.m. ET (1500 GMT).
Earlier, separate data showed non-defense capital goods
orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business
spending plans, jumped 6.3 percent, the biggest gain since
December 2011. The market's reaction was muted.
In earnings news, discount retailer Target Corp
appeared poised for a solid showing in the first quarter and
forecast a higher profit for the full year after a weak
performance in the key holiday season. The stock was off 3.3
percent at $61.92 in early trading.
Dollar Tree Inc reported a higher quarterly profit
as shoppers spent more and the chain controlled costs. The stock
jumped 10 percent to $45.00.
Shares of Boyd Gaming jumped 3.8 percent to $6.75
after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a revised online
In Europe, shares rose, steadying after the previous
session's sharp losses, though jitters over the euro zone kept a
lid on gains.
Italy's 10-year debt costs rose more than half a percentage
point at the first longer-term auction since an inconclusive
parliamentary election, although they remained below the
psychologically important level of 5 percent.