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Stocks higher amid concern about Europe

Stocks moved higher at Wednesday’s open, with traders citing comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel about keeping Greece in the euro zone as calming markets.

But they cautioned that trading throughout the session is likely to be volatile, tracking developments in Europe.

Futures bounced back from steep overnight losses hit as investors worried about Greece's political and financial crisis. Merkel's comments at a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande were seen partly alleviating those fears.

"The market was pretty weak overnight, futures were under a lot more pressure, but Merkel made a comment reiterating she wants Greece to stay in the euro and that appears to have stabilized futures," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

"That is, if they are willing to keep up with their agreement, and that "if" is very much under question right now," he said.

In economic news, U.S. housing starts rose more than expected in April in another sign of a nascent housing recovery, even though permits for future building fell after touching a 3-1/2 year high the prior month.

"Nice to see some turnaround," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York. "However, this housing story is much smaller than news out of Greece and might get easily forgotten."

And Facebook Inc increased the size of its initial public offering by 25 percent and could raise as much as $16 billion as strong investor demand for the No. 1 social network trumps debate about the company's long-term potential to make money.

Reuters contributed to this report.