Updated from 4:17 p.m. EST

Stocks ticked higher Tuesday, but investors weren't inclined to make big bets with the start of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting, more blue-chip earnings and surging oil prices to consider.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 32.53 points, or 0.26%, to 12,523.31, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 7.55 points, or 0.31%, at 2448.64. The S&P 500 tacked on 8.20 points, or 0.58%, at 1428.82.

The Dow benefited from gains of 1.8% in Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and Intel ( INTC). The Nasdaq got help from Activision ( ATVI) and Juniper Networks ( JNPR), which each advanced 2.8%.

Roughly 2.73 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers beat decliners by a 12-to-5 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq reached nearly 1.84 billion shares, with winners outpacing losers 3 to 2.

Key action was taking place in Washington, D.C., where the Fed gathered for the first day of a policy meeting. The central bank will meet again Wednesday and release its policy statement at 2:15 p.m. EST.

No change is expected in the target fed funds rate for the fifth straight time. Even so, the Fed's comments on the economy will factor heavily in traders' plans, at least for the near future.

James Park, managing director with Rodman & Renshaw, that the conundrum investors face in evaluating the Fed's moves is finding the balance of earnings expansion weighed against economic growth.

"The environment has been fairly encouraging," said Park. "Technology earnings shook a lot of confidence out of investors, but when you're seeing steady economic data investors should feel somewhat confident following the Fed announcement tomorrow."

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