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February 27, 2013  Wed 7:14 AM CT

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Stocks are trying to hold their ground after a strong Italian bond auction eased worries about the debt-laden country.

S&P 500 futures are up slightly and have been rising in the last hour. European markets are mostly higher by about half a percent, following gains by most Asian markets overnight. Energy futures are climbing as well.

While Italy's elections spooked investors earlier this week with the specter of a divided government, unable to make needed reforms, strong demand caused bond yields fell in today's debt sale. Attention will continue to focus on the political realm as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke addresses the Senate Banking Committee today and the possibility of forced spending cuts loom in Washington.

The news comes as equities attempt to stabilize after their biggest drop in 2013. Today's event calendar also focuses on durable-goods orders and pending home sales.

Foreign exchange and commodities paint a very mixed picture. The euro and crude oil are higher, but the Australian dollar and copper are lower. Precious metals are also down after climbing yesterday, but agricultural foodstuffs are higher.

The strength in the euro and energy unusual because traders are shrugging off a rally in the Japanese yen, which drove stocks in Tokyo lower overnight.

In company-specific news, retailer Target is down slightly despite reporting strong results and providing guidance above consensus. First Solar is indicated to open lower by 13 percent after forecasting first-quarter results well below estimates.
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