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Bernanke to Take Center Stage on Hill

U.S. stocks are trading slightly higher in premarket activity, after a late day rally saved the Dow and S&P 500 from another down day. Yesterday, the Dow gained 123 points to 9939; the S&P 500 was up 11 and a half to 1062, while the NASDAQ lost three points to 2170, on concerns of the tech sector's exposure to the weakening European economy.

Today, European stocks are up, while Asian markets were mixed--the Chinese stock market increased by nearly 3%, but Tokyo was down 1%.

Small business owners are slowly gaining confidence in the economy. The National Federation of Independent Business poll found that optimism among the group rose 1.6 points in May to 92.2, the best reading since September 2008. Still, job creation and capital expenditure remained mired at recession levels.

Today, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke takes center stage to testify before the House Budget Committee, giving investors an excuse to focus on the US economy, rather than the problems in Europe. He'll likely be questioned about a Treasury department report, that predicts that US debt will rise to $19.6 trillion by 2015, or 102% of GDP (from $13.6 trillion or 93% this year).

Later in the day, the Fed will release its Beige Book on the economy, which provides a summary of economic conditions across the 12 Fed districts.

Also on Capital Hill, there will be a number of hearings about the oil industry: the Senate Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on increased safety measures; the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works holds a hearing on the liability cap for big oil, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a hearing on liability limits and whether they should be changed for Deepwater Horizon and future events.


Jill Schlesinger is the Editor-at-Large for CBS Prior to the launch of MoneyWatch, she was the Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. In her infancy, she was an options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York.