US futures up as business spends on durable goods

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures rose Wednesday as a government report showed businesses continue to invest in more machinery, computer systems and other long-lasting items despite the big cut to a tax benefit for doing so.

Dow Jones industrials futures rose 28 points to 13,152 and Standard & Poor's 500 futures rose 2.4 points to 1,408.8. The Nasdaq composite futures edged up 6 points to 2,781.75.

The Commerce Department reported before the market opening that orders for durable goods, things expected to last at least three years, rose 2.2 percent. Orders for machinery, computers, autos and aircraft fueled the rise.

The report comes a day after a consumer confidence index showed Americans have remained resilient in the face of skyrocketing gasoline costs.

The durable goods number is significant because of a shift in tax policy that some feared would dampen growth. Businesses last year could reduce taxable profits by an amount that equaled the cost of major investments. That tax benefit has been halved and many economists aid a big January drop-off in spending was the cause.

Another major concern for economic policy makers, energy prices, may be helping fuel a rebound as well.

Futures for crude, natural gas, heating oil and gasoline were all falling early Wednesday, with gasoline leading the way.

Oil prices fell to near $106 a barrel Wednesday after a report suggesting a larger-than-expected jump in U.S. crude supplies, suggesting demand remains weak.

The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 3.6 million barrels last week. That is a bigger jump than was predicted by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos. Platts expects an increase of 2.8 million barrels.

If consumers get a break on what they have to pay for energy, that would almost certainly provide another bump to the U.S. economy.

The Energy Information Administration releases its weekly report at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.