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NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks were pointed toward a lower opening Wednesday as oil prices moved over $100 a barrel.

Crude oil prices rose to $100.99 in electronic trading ahead of the opening of the U.S. stock market. Oil prices have surged over the last week, pushing the price of gas at the pump up nearly 20 cents a gallon over that time.

Stock indexes fell Tuesday after Chairman Ben Bernanke said that persistent high oil prices could threaten the pace of the economic recovery by increasing transportation costs for businesses and cutting into consumer spending.

Bernanke will testify Wednesday for a second straight day on Capitol Hill, this time to the House Financial Services Committee.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 21 points, or 0.2 percent, to 12,005. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures were down 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,299. Nasdaq 100 futures were down 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,307.

Retail companies reported mixed earnings reports before the market opened.

Staples Inc. said its fourth quarter profit rose 18 percent, slightly below analyst expectations. The company’s shares slipped 0.6 percent in pre-market trading. Costco Wholesale Corp. reported a profit that met analyst expectations. The company’s stock dipped 0.2 percent in pre-market trading.

BJ Wholesale Club Inc. said its earnings fell 81 percent in the fourth quarter, but met Wall Street’s expectations.

Apple Inc. is expected to announce a new version of its iPad tablet computer at an event Wednesday.

Stocks suffered steep losses as oil prices surged on Tuesday, renewing worries that higher fuel prices could hobble the economic recovery. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 168.32 points, or 1.4 percent, to 12,058.02. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 20.89, or 1.6 percent, to 1,306.33. The Nasdaq composite fell 44.86, or 1.6 percent, to 2,737.41.

Reported by The Associated Press.

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