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US stocks gain ground ahead of last Fed meeting of the year



Stocks rose on Wall Street as markets hold onto hope that the Federal Reserve is ready to ease back slightly on its campaign to slow the economy with high interest rates

NEW YORK -- Stocks rose on Wall Street Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve's latest decision on interest rates,

The S&P 500 rose 0.5% as of 10:11 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 139 points, or 0.4%, to 34,246 and the Nasdaq rose 0.6%.

Investors are hoping that the Fed will ease up on its aggressive interest rate increases as it tries to slow the economy and tame inflation. The central bank is expected to raise its benchmark rate by half a percentage point, still double the usual move but not as huge as the last four hikes it has made, which were all three-quarters of a percentage point.

Other central banks around the world, including the European Central Bank, are also likely to raise their own rates by half a percentage point this week.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government reported that inflation slowed more than economists expected in November. It is another sign that inflation is easing and has given Wall Street hope that the Fed might be able to take its foot off the brakes on the economy sooner than expected and possibly avoid a recession.

Wall Street is also closely watching economic reports on consumer spending and employment, which remain strong. That has made it more difficult for the Fed to tame inflation while also helping to protect the slowing economy from a possible recession.

The U.S. will release its weekly report on unemployment benefits on Thursday, along with retail sales data for November.

Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, slipped to 3.49% from 3.50% from late Tuesday. The two-year yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, dropped to 4.18% from 4.22% late Tuesday.

Technology and Health care companies were among the biggest gainers. Microsoft rose 1.4% and Eli Lilly rose 1.9%.

Delta Air Lines rose 1.6% after it raised its fourth-quarter financial outlook and issued an optimistic forecast for 2023.

Markets in Asia were higher and European markets were mostly lower.


Elaine KurteNBAch and Matt Ott contributed to this report.