NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks quickly snapped out of an early-morning stupor, rocketing higher amid hopes the Federal Reserve will leave its rate hike timeline unchanged.
The S&P 500 added 0.58%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.44%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.34%. Benchmark indexes have fallen for three straight sessions as crude oil prices tumbled.
The Fed will conclude its two-day meeting Wednesday afternoon with a statement at 2 p.m. EST and a press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen shortly after. Investors will be listening closely to whether the central bank removes its longstanding pledge to keep interest rates at near zero for a "considerable time."
"What Fed Chair Janet Yellen says, and how she says it, will be the focus today," wrote economist Stephen Guilfoyle in a post. "[Yellen] will stay vague, and stress the Fed's data dependency. One way, or another, she will move the marketplace this afternoon."
Consumer prices saw their biggest drop since 2008, a result of lower fuel prices. The Consumer Price Index for November fell 0.3%, a wider drop than the estimated 0.1% decrease. Core CPI, excluding volatile items such as food and energy, increased 0.1% as expected.
Crude oil prices continued falling with West Texas Intermediate down 1.1% to $55.31. Like OPEC, Russian officials said 2015 output would be similar to this year's at 10.6 million barrels a day. Oil prices have nearly halved from a mid-summer peak as global oversupply faces flagging demand.
Crude oil inventories slipped 0.8 million barrels last week, according to a release Wednesday from the Energy Information Administration. Economists had expected a drop of 2.4 million after an increase of 1.5 million barrels a week earlier.
The Russian ruble steadied after two days of steep declines as Russian authorities initiated the sale of their foreign exchange reserves. Earlier in the week, Russia's central bank enacted an emergency interest rate hike of 650 basis points to 17% after the currency suffered its worst intraday drop in 16 years.
President Obama will make an address Wednesday concerning potential plans to normalize U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations. Earlier, American contractor Alan Gross was released from Cuban prison after being held captive for five years.
"Recently, President Obama stated that Gross' release is necessary for him to begin implementing a series of actions to help the process of reconciliation. I believe this is an important first step toward this process," Thomas Herzfeld said in an email. "We have made every effort to position the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund to benefit from resumed trade with Cuba."
American Apparel (APP) surged more than 10% after the company terminated controversial former CEO Dov Charney's employment, six months after he was ousted as head of the company. Paula Schneider has been named as his replacement.
FedEx (FDX) - Get Report shares were down more than 4% after missing second-quarter earnings and revenue expectations. The company reiterated its previous full-year forecast and said it expects a "modest" boost from lower fuel prices. Competitor UPS (UPS) - Get Report moved lower in sympathy.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.