Dec 17, 2014 11:10 AM

US stocks gain before Fed statement

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) U.S. stocks rose Wednesday after a string of losses as investors waited for the latest statement from the Federal Reserves. Energy stocks led the gains as the price of oil recovered some of its recent losses.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 13 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,986 as of 11:04 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 89 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,158. The Nasdaq composite climbed 22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,570.

FED MEETING: Investors will be assessing the statement from the Federal Reserve's final policy meeting of the year on Wednesday and will be looking to see if U.S. policymakers drop a pledge to keep interest rates low for a "considerable time," as the U.S. economy improves. The Fed will release a statement at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time and will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m.

RUSSIA FOCUS: Russia remained in focus on concerns about the impact of the recent slide in the ruble. The currency has lost more than 50 percent of its value this year. After falling again early Wednesday, the ruble recovered and was 11 percent higher at 61 rubles to the dollar.

The currency recovered some of its losses Wednesday after Russian authorities indicated that they would sell foreign currency to relieve the pressure on the ruble. The Russian currency has suffered in the wake of sliding oil prices and sanctions imposed over Russia's involvement in Ukraine's crisis.

ENERGY RALLY: Energy stocks led gains for the S&P 500 index as the price of oil recovered some of its recent losses. Stocks in the sector jumped 2.9 percent, pairing their losses in the last three months to 18.7 percent. Diamond Offshore Drilling was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, rising $2.62, or 7.2 percent, to $38.95.

OIL: U.S. crude turned slightly higher in midday trading. Oil rose 40 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $56.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 76 cents to $59.23 a barrel in London.

EARNING FAIL TO DELIVER: FedEx was one of the biggest losers in early trading after in the shipping company reported earnings that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. The company said a jump in plane maintenance costs blunted gains the company reaped from managing costs, lowering its pension expense and growing its export package revenue. The company's stock dropped $9.21, or 5.3 percent, to $165.07.

EUROPE'S DAY: In Europe, Germany's DAX was 0.1 percent lower while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.1 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.08 percent from 2.06 percent late Tuesday. The euro was 0.8 percent lower at $1.2399 and the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 117.39 yen.


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