U.S. stocks are higher Wednesday as energy companies rise with the price of oil. Metals prices are also rising as the dollar gets a bit weaker. Investors are waiting for the Federal Reserve to conclude a policy meeting.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 50 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,180 as of noon Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,146. The Nasdaq composite rose 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,250. Stocks rose in morning trading Monday and Tuesday but their gains dissipated both days.
ENERGY: Oil prices jumped as fuel stockpiles shrank and investors hoped that supply gluts are easing, which would allow prices to rise. The Energy Information Administration said oil inventories dropped by 6.2 million barrels and gasoline inventories decreased by 2.5 million barrels last week.
S&P Global Platts says analysts expected oil inventories to grow and gasoline stockpiles to shrink by a smaller amount.
Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.09, or 2.5 percent, to $45.14 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 89 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $46.77 a barrel in London. That helped energy companies, and Anadarko Petroleum rose $2.13, or 3.7 percent, to $60.41 while Chevron added 88 cents to $98.58.
FED TIME: This afternoon the Federal Reserve wrap up its latest meeting on interest rates. Investors don’t expect it to raise rates, so they will keep a close eye on a press conference led by Fed Chair Janet Yellen as they seek hints about the central bank’s plans.
BANK OF JAPAN: Japan’s central bank made some technical changes that give it more influence over long-term interest rates. It said it will continue trying to stimulate the Japanese economy until inflation is higher than 2 percent a year, but it didn’t reduce interest rates any further. Some analysts thought the central bank would take further steps to bolster economic growth. Those steps could have weakened the yen. Since they weren’t, the dollar fell to 100.58 yen from 101.84 yen.
ADOBE JUMPS: Software maker Adobe Systems climbed after it raised its forecasts for the year. Adobe also reported solid third-quarter results. Its stock climbed $6.62, or 6.6 percent, to $107.24.
CHECKS IN THE MAIL: FedEx boosted its forecasts for the year as it projected a record holiday season, and the shipping company posted better first-quarter results than analysts had expected. The stock rose $10.50, or 6.5 percent, to $173.15.
QUEASY FEELING: Health care and household goods companies, which made the biggest gains on Tuesday, lagged the market. Biotech drug companies traded lower as Heather Bresch, the CEO of drugmaker Mylan, addresses Congress about the rising price of Mylan’s emergency allergy shot EpiPen.
In prepared testimony, Bresch defended the company’s tactics and said Mylan balanced the price of EpiPen against access for patients. Mylan edged up 26 cents to $41.52 Wednesday, but it’s down 14 percent since Aug. 19. The price of a two-pack of EpiPens has jumped more than 500 percent over the last decade to more than $600, and Mylan is getting ready to start selling a version that costs about half as much.
Drug companies, especially ones that make costly biotech products, have been hammered over the last year by repeated controversies over drug prices. Amgen lost 98 cents to $172.40 while Alexion Pharmaceuticals gave up $2.89, or 2.2 percent, to $128.84.
Drugstore operators Walgreens and CVS also slipped, which hurt consumer goods companies.
FLAT TIRE: CarMax lost $1.40, or 2.5 percent, to $54.36 after the used car dealership reported weaker than expected sales.
BUYBACKS: Microsoft said it will buy back $40 billion in stock and also raised its quarterly dividend. The technology giant’s stock rose 59 cents, or 1 percent, to $57.40. Retailer Target said it plans to buy back $5 billion in company stock, and its shares gained 49 cents to $69.11.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.70 percent from 1.69 percent. The euro dipped to $1.1151 from $1.1157.
OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent and the FTSE 100 of Britain added 0.2 percent. France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.6 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 reversed an early loss and closed 1.9 percent higher. The Hang Seng of Hong Kong gained 0.6 percent and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5 percent.
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