Banks are leading U.S. stocks higher in midday trading Tuesday as the Federal Reserve meets to discuss interest rates and the economy. The central bank is expected to raise interest rates for the third time this year on Wednesday. Banks benefit from higher interest rates because they can charge more to lend money. The gains were broad, and utilities were the only laggard among the 11 sectors in the S&P 500 index. Crude oil prices headed lower. Bitcoin futures slipped on their second day of trading.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,667 as of noon Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 131 points, or 0.5 percent, to 24,517. The Nasdaq added 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,883. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,523. The S&P 500 and the Dow closed at all-time highs Monday.
FEDERAL RESERVE: Investors were looking ahead to Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve is expected to raise short-term interest rates by 0.25 percent. While inflation has remained low, the central bank has seen a path to gradually raise rates as the economy and labor market have strengthened. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will have policy announcements on Thursday, but neither is expected to change rates, leaving the focus on their economic forecasts.
MALL MOVERS: Several shopping mall owners were trading higher after Australian company Westfield agreed to be bought by France’s Unibail-Rodamco for $15.7 billion. Macerich gained $2.72, or 4.3 percent, to $66.01, while Simon Property Group rose $2.73, or 1.7 percent, to $164.99. GGP picked up 27 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $23.66.
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