NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks reversed earlier losses to shoot higher on Tuesday morning as Federal Reserve members convened for a two-day meeting.
The S&P 500 added 0.13%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.23%, and the Nasdaq added 0.06%. The Volatility Index (VIX.X), or "fear" index, was slightly higher at 15.44.
The Fed will release a statement Wednesday afternoon and a press conference will follow. Economists do not expect the Fed to raise interest rates until September at the earliest.
"Activity is not yet strong enough to give the Fed 'reasonable confidence' that progress in the labor market will continue," said SG Global Economics' Michala Marcussen. "Therefore, we do not expect any signals regarding the timing of the lift-off in rates."
U.S. housing starts in May fell 11.1% to an annual rate of 1.04 million from a revised 1.17 million in April, which was the highest since November 2007. Permits for future construction were a bright spot, though, jumping 11.8% to a 1.28 million unit rate. That was its highest point since August 2007.
"Housing remains an area of focus for many and rightfully so," said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG Research. "While the May starts data was a bit of a disappointment, the permit data was much stronger than expected suggesting starts should continue to improve in coming months, supporting job creation and the broader economy."
European markets extended Monday's losses ahead of Greece and its European creditors' final round of negotiations on Thursday. Eurozone finance ministers are pushing Greece to introduce a round of austerity measures in exchange for further debt relief.