Stocks rise ahead of Bernanke, Obama speeches

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are gaining steam ahead of speeches on the economy by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and President Barack Obama.

Bernanke will detail his outlook for the economy Thursday afternoon. Obama will lay out his jobs plan at a joint session of Congress tonight.

Stocks drifted between gains and losses in early trading after mixed signs on the economy. New applications for unemployment benefits rose last week. At the same time, U.S. exports rose to an all-time high. That could be a sign the economy is growing.

At 11:45 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 37 points, or 0.3 percent, to 11,453. The S&P 500 rose 3, or 0.3 percent, to 1,201. The Nasdaq gained 13, or 0.5 percent, to 2,562.