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Wed. 10:51 a.m.: Stocks edge higher on Wall Street ahead of Fed statement

Stocks are starting higher on Wall Street this morning, potentially setting up the S&P 500 to break a four-day losing streak. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

Stocks edged higher on Wall Street in morning trading this morning ahead of an anticipated update from the Federal Reserve on how and when it might begin easing its extraordinary support measures for the economy.

The S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent as of 10:02 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 332 points, or 1 percent, to 34,252 and the Nasdaq rose 0.5 percent.

Gains within the S&P 500 were broad and could potentially break a four-day losing streak if they hold. Roughly 85 percent of stocks in the index rose. Banks and technology companies led the gains. A mix of health care and communications companies fell.

Smaller stocks did slightly better than the broader market. The Russell 2000 rose 1.1 percent.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.32 percent. Crude oil prices rose 1.7 percent.

Much of the weakness for communications companies came from Facebook. The social media company fell 4.2 percent after its oversight board said it will review an internal system that exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules.

FedEx slumped 8.4 percent after it reported sharply higher costs even as demand for shipping increased. A wide range of industrial and other companies have been dealing with higher costs because of a mix of labor and supply chain problems.

Investors’ key focus this morning is the Fed’s statement on interest rate policy. The central bank has been buying bonds to keep interest rates low since the pandemic sapped the economy 18 months ago. It has signaled that it will eventually reduce those purchases, but the breadth and timing is still unknown.

Wall Street has been trying to gauge how the slowdown in the economic recovery will affect the Fed’s decision-making process. The broader market has been choppy as that question lingers amid rising cases of COVID-19 because of the highly contagious delta variant.

Investors have also been concerned about heavily indebted Chinese real estate developers and the damage they could do if they default and send ripple effects through markets. Evergrande, one of China’s biggest private sector conglomerates, said it will make a payment due Thursday, potentially easing some of those concerns.

European markets were mostly higher and Asian markets were mixed. Markets in South Korea and Hong Kong were closed for holidays.

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