published Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

US stocks rise ahead of Fed meeting

  • photo
    In a Friday Sept. 7, 2012, file photo, a specialist works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks slipped Monday, Sept 10, 2012, as troubling economic news from China and the U.S. outweighed optimism about more stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NEW YORK - Investors spent Tuesday preparing for two events sure to move markets this week: a Federal Reserve meeting and a court decision on whether Germany can help support its struggling neighbors. And if the stock market's gains Tuesday are any sign, they expect both events to turn out well.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 69.07 points to close at 13,323.36. The average of 30 large company stocks has already gained 1.8 percent to start September, a month which is usually dismal for stocks.

Bank of America led the 30 stocks in the Dow, rising 5 percent, or 45 cents, to $9.03.

Federal Reserve officials will gather for a two-day meeting on Wednesday. Many expect the Fed will announce a new effort to revive the sluggish economy Thursday afternoon.

On the same day the Fed starts its meeting, Germany's high court is expected to rule on whether the country can participate in a European bailout fund. The court rejected a last-minute appeal to delay the decision on Tuesday.

"It's going to get interesting this week," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at the brokerage Charles Schwab.

Frederick expects the Fed will make some sort of move, especially after the government reported last Friday that employers added fewer than 100,000 jobs in August.

"Prior to the employment report people weren't as sure," Frederick said. "I am definitely on the majority side here. There's some sort of easing coming."

In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.48 points to 1,433.56. The Nasdaq composite increased 0.51 of a point to 3,104.53.

The assumption that the Fed will announce new stimulus measures is so widespread that some worry the market could take a plunge if the Fed fails to deliver.

Ron Florance, managing director of investment strategy at Wells Fargo Private Bank in Scottsdale, Ariz., said he's always wary when stocks rise on nothing more than expectations.

"These are the things that make you nervous, when markets are going strong in anticipation of news," Florance said.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported that exports to Europe dropped 11.7 percent in July, stoking concerns that Europe's troubles could smother the U.S. recovery. Overall U.S. exports fell 1 percent to $183.3 billion, lowered by weaker sales of autos, telecom equipment and heavy machinery.

Morgan Stanley and Citigroup rose after the two banks settled a dispute over how much to value their jointly owned brokerage firm, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. The deal cleared the way for Morgan Stanley to buy Citigroup's stake. Citi gained 83 cents to $32.66. Morgan Stanley rose 64 cents to $17.25.

A profit warning from luxury clothing chain Burberry helped tug down other high-end retailers in early trading. Burberry said slowing sales to China will likely weaken earnings. Ralph Lauren lost $4.09 to $156.22. Tiffany & Co. sank 78 cents to $62.26.

Among other stocks making moves:

• Legg Mason jumped 5 percent following reports that its CEO will step down Oct. 1. Clients have been pulling money out of the money manager's funds, weakening revenue. Legg Mason's stock surged $1.38 to $26.85.

• Hewlett-Packard gained 52 cents to $17.95, a 3 percent gain. The computer and printer maker said late Monday that it will cut 29,000 jobs by October 2014, or 2,000 more than it had previously planned. Sales of personal computers have slumped as people favor smartphones and lightweight tablet computers.

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