Stocks Open With Gains Ahead of Fed Meeting

Stocks on Wall Street opened modestly higher ahead of the Federal Reserve's widely expected move to cut interest rates.
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Stocks on Wall Street opened with gains Tuesday, as investors expect the

Federal Reserve

to cut its target interest rate later in the day.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 76 points to 8640, and the

S&P 500

was up 12 points at 880. The

Nasdaq

edged up 20 points at 1528.

Stocks in New York lost ground Monday as little new information surfaced on a possible rescue for the U.S. auto industry.

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

announced its first quarterly loss as a public company early Tuesday. The company reported a loss of $2.12 billion, or $4.97 a share, while Wall Street analysts had predicted a loss of $3.73 a share.

In economic data, the government announced early Tuesday that

new home construction and building permit applications

fell for the fifth consecutive month in November -- to rates below consensus expectations.

The most widely cited inflation indicator, the Consumer Price Index, a measure of the price level of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by consumers, also declined more than expected. Excluding food and energy, the "core rate" of inflation was 0 for November. CPI is used to calculate cost of living adjustments (COLA) for government programs and private labor agreements.

The

Federal Reserve

, will continue with the second day of a two-day meeting today and is expected to announce that it will lower the key U.S. official interest rate, known as the fed funds target rate, by another half point. That would bring the rate to 0.5%.

There was no word on Monday about the progress of temporary help for the auto industry, while Chrysler and

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

have said they may have only weeks of sustainability remaining.

The White House has said it might now be willing to use money drawn from the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The Treasury also said it's prepared to pitch in after a federal rescue plan for Detroit's Big Three Automakers --

Ford

(F) - Get Report

, GM and Chrysler -- failed to pass the Senate last week.

Tracking commodities, crude oil was rising 65 cents to $45.16 a barrel. Gold was down $2.30 to $834.20 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year was flat to yield 2.51%, and the 30-year was rising 13.5/32, yielding 2.94. The dollar was weaker against the euro, pound, and yen.

Overseas, European exchanges such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were edging higher -- up 0.1% and 1.3%, respectively. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei ended lower, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended with slight gains.

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