NEW YORK -- Stocks are set to rise Wednesday ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's latest assessment of the health of the U.S. economy.
Bernanke is expected to discuss the job market, inflation and the prospects for economic growth following the conclusion of the Fed's two-day policymaking meeting. He is expected to speak with reporters at an afternoon news conference.
Investors will also be watching for signs of whether the Fed plans to begin raising interest rates. The central bank's $600 billion bond-buying program is set to end as scheduled in June.
In corporate news, Boeing Co. rose about 1 percent in pre-market trading after the airplane maker and defense contractor reported earnings that beat analyst expectations. The company maintained its profit and revenue expectations for the year and said it still expected to deliver its delay-prone 787 aircraft in the third quarter.
Specialty glass maker Corning Inc. rose 7 percent ahead of the opening after the company's revenue surged on strong sales of glass for flat-screen televisions, computers and mobile devices.
Whirlpool Corp. rose more than 4 percent in pre-market trading. The company's net income increased by 3 percent as it sold more appliances even after raising prices to combat higher costs for raw materials.
Stocks also got a lift from another round of corporate deals. Johnson & Johnson said it would buy medical device maker Synthes Inc. for $21.3 billion, and phone company CenturyLink Inc. said it would purchase Savvis Inc. for $2.5 billion.
The Commerce Department reported that businesses increased their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in March.
Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures are up 30, or 0.2 percent, at 12,548.
Standard & Poor's 500 index futures are up 4, or 0.3 percent, at 1,345. Nasdaq 100 index futures are up 13, or 0.6 percent, at 2,398.
The Nasdaq's gains came despite weak results from Amazon.com Inc. The online retailer's net income fell 33 percent in the first quarter, missing analysts' expectations, as the company spent more to expand its operations. Its stock fell about 1 percent in premarket trading.
Bond prices fell, sending yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.35 percent from 3.31 percent late Tuesday.