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U.S. stocks rise ahead of Fed policy decision; Dow Jones up 0.30%

Stock MarketsDec 12, 2012 09:48AM ET
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This article has already been saved in your Saved Items - U.S. stocks opened higher on Wednesday, as investors awaited the Federal Reserve's highly anticipated policy statement later in the day, amid expectations for further easing measures.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.30%, the S&P 500 index added 0.33%, while the Nasdaq Composite index advanced 0.30%.

The U.S. central bank was expected to announce new easing steps to replace its Operation Twist program, which expires this month following its policy setting meeting later Wednesday.

Meanwhile, investors remained cautious as they awaited fresh developments in negotiations to avoid the U.S. fiscal cliff amid concerns that the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect in early 2013 could derail the U.S. recovery.

Financial stocks were broadl higher, as shares in Goldman Sachs rose 0.54% and Bank of America advanced 0.76%, while JPMorgan and Citigroup rallied 0.82% and 0.89%.

Separately, Bloomberg reported earlier that JPMorgan was pressed by U.S. regulators to strengthen investor disclosures on proprietary trading almost a year before a wrong-way bet on credit derivatives cost the bank at least USD6.2 billion.

In the energy sector, Chesapeake Energy surged 1.35% after it agreed on Tuesday to sell most of its remaining natural gas processing and gathering assets for USD2.16 billion. Rival Chevron climbed 0.52%.

Tech stocks added to gains, led by Intel, up 1.31%, while Apple saw shares rise 0.51% amid reports that the tech giant is working with Hon Hai and Sharp to test designs for televisions.

Meanwhile, Sprint Nextel added 0.18% amid reports it is in talks with Intel and Comcast to buy out their stakes in the U.S. wireless provider Clearwire.

On the downside, Wal-Mart Stores tumbled 1.94% after India's government announced an inquiry into lobbying practices by the retailer following reports the company had pushed U.S. lawmakers to help gain access to foreign markets.

Separately, Costco Wholesale dropped 0.72%, although the group posted a 30% rise in quarterly profit, beating expectations, boosted by rising sales and higher membership fees.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were mixed to higher. The EURO STOXX 50 added 0.11%, France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.15%, Germany's DAX rose 0.30%, while Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.19% higher.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 0.80%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced 0.59%.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve was to announce the federal funds rate, which was to be accompanied by the bank’s rate statement and followed by a press conference with Chairman Ben Bernanke to discuss the rate decision and the economic outlook.

The U.S. was also to release official data on import prices and crude oil inventories.

U.S. stocks rise ahead of Fed policy decision; Dow Jones up 0.30%

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