Stocks held gains by mid-morning Wednesday as investors awaited news on interest rates from the Federal Reserve.
The S&P 500 was up 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.39%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.33%. Stocks have fallen for the past four sessions.
The Fed concludes a two-day monetary policy meeting on Wednesday afternoon with a statement and fresh forecasts, followed by Chair Janet Yellen's press conference. Chances of a June rate hike are virtually non-existent, but investors will be on high alert for clues to the timing of future rate increases.
"With a rate hike unlikely, the FOMC's 'dot plots' will likely be at the center of attention," said John Canally, chief economic strategist for LPL Financial. "Fed Chair Yellen's second post-FOMC meeting press conference of 2016 provides an opportunity for the Fed to add color to its view of the economy, inflation, and financial market volatility."
A July rate hike currently has a 23% probability, September a 37% probability, November a 38% probability, and December a 59% probability, according to CME Group Fed funds futures.
Crude oil recovered from lows on Wednesday after a decline in U.S. inventories over the past week. Crude inventories fell by 900,000 barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration. However, the decline wasn't as steep as an expected drop of 2.7 million.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 0.2% to $48.32 a barrel on Wednesday. Crude closed at a three-week low a day earlier. Oil had fallen below $48 earlier in the session.
It was a busy morning for economic data. Industrial production fell 0.4% in May after a revised 0.6% gain in April, according to the Federal Reserve. The decline was mainly due to a 4.2% drop in motor vehicle production.
Producer prices in the U.S. rose 0.4% in May, above estimates for a 0.3% increase. Core prices, excluding food and energy, fell 0.1%. Producer prices have risen 0.1% over the past 12 months.
Economic conditions in the New York region improved in June after a disappointing read in May. The Empire State index climbed to positive 6 in June from negative 9 in May.
Best Buy (BBY) - Get Best Buy Co., Inc. Report fell after Credit Suisse downgraded the retail chain to neutral, pointing to worries over slowing sales in the second half of 2016. The firm cut its price target to $31 from $36.50.
Aegerion Pharmaceuticals (AEGR) spiked after agreeing to merge with fellow biotech company QLT (QLTI) . Each Aegerion share will be exchanged for 1.0256 QLT shares. The merger is expected to be completed by at least the end of the third quarter and the merged company will be called Novelion Therapeutics.
Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report has invested around $70 million in music service SoundCloud. The latest investment is part of a round that should end up in the $100 million range, Re/code reported, and is expected to value SoundCloud at around $700 million.
Panera Bread (PNRA) announced plans to cut all artificial flavors and preservatives from its Panera at Home line. The grocery items will be artificial-free by the end of the year. Panera's bakery cafes will also eliminate all artificial ingredients.