IEVA M. AUGSTUMSNEW YORK (AP) ¿ Rallying industrial companies sent the stock market higher Wednesday as investors awaited the Federal Reserve's latest assessment of the U.S. economy. Investors are increasingly optimistic about profits at big industrial companies, and stock like Boeing and General Electric are seeing some of the biggest gains. Investors kept an eye on the weak dollar, which is lifting prices for commodities and helping to boost the stocks of materials producers. Later Wednesday, the Fed will release its beige book, a region-by-region look at the economy. The report is due at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). "If there are any surprises in there it could have dramatic impact on the market," said Joe Heider, president of Dawson Wealth Management in Cleveland. "My personal belief is, the discussion is going to indicate that inflation is subdued and not a concern at this point." Meanwhile, investors have been tracking the dollar, which is trading near lows for the year against the euro and a two-month low against the yen after sinking Tuesday. The dollar's recent drop is lifting commodities prices, including oil which is extending its gains.
Oil traders are closely watching an OPEC meeting in Vienna, although oil ministers have repeatedly said the producer group is unlikely to change its production levels. In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 63.94, or 0.7 percent, to 9,561.28. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 8.73, or 0.9 percent, to 1,034.12, while the Nasdaq composite rose 24.19, or 1.2 percent, at 2,061.96. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 9.54, or 1.7 percent, to 585.96. Three stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 501.6 million shares compared with 530.2 million shares traded at the same time Tuesday. Industrial stocks led the market higher following the gains in commodities. The higher prices could translate to increased profits if the economy strengthens. Airplane maker Boeing Co. was the strongest advancer of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials. Its shares rose $1.32, or 2.7 percent, to $50.82. Aircraft maker Textron Inc. rose 49 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $18.47 after the company said it would leave its 2009 profit forecast unchanged.
Illinois Tool Works Inc., which makes industrial equipment, rose $1.92, or 4.6 percent, to $43.77. Drugmaker Vivus Inc. surged $4.79, or 69 percent, to $11.70 after reporting that its drug candidate for obesity, called Qnexa, met key weight loss goals in two late-stage studies. Bond prices fell, pushing yields higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.51 percent from 3.48 percent late Tuesday.