Stocks Rally For Second Straight Day As FOMC Looms

Michael Teague  |

Wall Street took as deep a breath as possible ahead of Ben Bernanke's press conference on Wednesday that is expected to be a definitive statement on the Federal Reserve's monetary policy in the near-term

Markets reached skyward for a second straight session on Tuesday as the Federal Open Market Committee convened for its monthly two-day meeting.

It is no secret by now that investors and markets the world over are anxiously awaiting Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s press briefing tomorrow at the conclusion of the meeting. The Fed began floating serious talk about the end, or “tapering,” of its massive $85 billion per month fiscal stimulus program over the last few weeks, just when it seemed that the central banks of the world’s developed nations had finally warmed up to the notion of experimental monetary policy.

This has made for a situation in which statements issuing from the Fed, as well as high-profile conjecturing about Fed policy have more or less outweighed economic data points in their ability to push markets either up or down. The U.S. central bank, despite the increasing recent confusion in its messaging, has more or less held to its original assertion that unemployment figures would have to drop much further while inflation would have to increase before any significant changes to its bond and asset buying regime will be made.

The Fed is also likely to provide updates to its growth projections for the U.S. economy for 2013 to 2015.

The S&P 500 was up 0.78 percent to close at 1,651.80 points, while the Dow advanced 0.91 percent to a 15,318.23 point finish, and the Nasdaq gained 0.87 percent to end the day at 3,482.18 points.

Tech shares led the S&P 500 higher, with advances of over 3 percent for Xerox (XRX), Micron Technology (MU) and SanDisk Corp. (SNDK), but oil stocks also figured prominently for the second day in a row. Newfield Exploration (NFX), Marathon Oil (MRO), WPX Energy (WPX) and Range Resources Corporation (RRC) were all up 3 percent or more as well.

The Dow was led by General Electric (GE), up 2.5 percent on high volume, followed by Unitedhealth Group (UNH) and Verizon Communications (VZ). All components on the index ended the day in the positive.

Dell Inc. (DELL) edged up later in the trading session as billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn rebutted accusations from the company’s board, and reassuring shareholders that his buyout plan was indeed fully financed.

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