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Stocks Finish Higher Ahead of Fed Decision

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks finished in positive territory Wednesday as investors mostly stood pat as the Federal Reserve kicked off a two-day policy meeting widely anticipated to yield another round of quantitative easing.

The big events of the day -- Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) launch of the iPhone 5 and a German court ruling supporting the country's participation in eurozone bailout efforts -- both went according to expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 10 points, or 0.07%, at 13,333. The blue-chip index, which grabbed scored its fifth gain in the past six sessions, ranged less than 55 points on the day.

Winners outpaced losers within the Dow, 18 to 12, led by General Electric (GE), Verizon Communications (VZ) and Travelers (TRV).

Blue-chip decliners included Bank of America (BAC), du Pont (DD), Boeing (BA) and McDonald's (MCD)

The S&P 500 added 3 points, or 0.21%, to finish at 1436.56. The Nasdaq overcame a late-session dip to rise 10 points, or 0.32%, to settle at 3114.

Apple provided a needed boost as its stock enjoyed a surge in the final hour to close up 1.4% at $668.79, just below its high for the day. The iconic company unveiled the eagerly awaited iPhone 5 at a media event in San Francisco, while also announcing redesigns for its iPod line and an updated version of iTunes.

The iPhone 5 represents a fairly major overhaul of the world's most popular smartphone with a bigger screen, LTE capabilities, Retina Display technology and an improved camera. The device is also thinner and lighter than its predecessors. Pricing starts at $199 with a two-year contract, Apple said, with pre-orders starting Friday and shipping set to begin on Sept. 21. Check out TheStreet's live blog of the event.

The strongest sectors in the broad market were consumer cyclicals, financials and capital goods. Consumer non-cyclicals, utilities and health care were in the red.

Volume totaled 3.62 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.69 billion on the Nasdaq. Gainers were ahead of decliners by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio on the Big Board and 1.5-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The stakes are high for the Fed's latest policy meeting, which concludes Thursday afternoon. In addition to expectations for another large asset-purchase program, the central bank could extend its promise to keep interest rates at historic lows into 2015 from the current pledge of late 2014.
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