U.S. stocks edged higher in early trading Wednesday ahead of an expected interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve. Technology stocks accounted for much of the market's gains. Health care companies also rose. Banks lagged the most. U.S. crude oil prices were climbing.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,670 as of 10:06 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 75 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,579. The Nasdaq added 28 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,890. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,523. The S&P 500 and the Dow have closed at all-time highs the past two days.
FED WATCH: The Fed is widely expected to raise its key short-term interest rate for the third time this year as the U.S. economy strengthens. Investors appear confident that the economy can withstand a gradual increase in rates. However, they will be keeping a close eye on Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments during a news conference for signals on how aggressive the Fed might be in raising rates next year.
INFLATION: New inflation data did nothing to alter expectations of another Fed rate hike. The Labor Department said Wednesday that U.S. consumer prices increased 0.4 percent last month as gasoline prices surged. Prices at the pump increased a sharp 7.3 percent after falling in October. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core consumer inflation rose a modest 0.1 percent in November.
TECH GAINS: Technology companies posted solid gains. Western Digital gained 2.7 percent after the hard drive maker resolved a dispute with its partner Toshiba over Toshiba's plan to sell its flash memory business. Shares in Western Digital rose $2.19 to $83.96.
APPLE TAKES A BITE: Finisar climbed 27 percent after Apple said it will invest $390 million in the fiber optic component supplier so it can make more lasers used in facial recognition technology. Shares in Finisar added $5.59 to $24.89. Apple was up $1.30, or 0.8 percent, to $173.
OUT THE DOOR: Diebold fell 1.8 percent after the ATM and security systems maker said CEO Andreas Mattes has resigned. The stock gave up 32 cents to $18.18.
FINANCIALS FLOUNDER: Banks and other financial stocks declined the most. Charles Schwab slid 67 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $50.89.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 12 cents to $57.26 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 11 cents to $63.23 in London.
BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.39 percent from 2.40 percent late Tuesday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.10 Japanese yen from 113.58 yen late Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1751 from $1.1737.
THE BITCOIN TRADE: Bitcoin futures fell $30, or 0.2 percent, to $17,990 on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The futures allow investors to make bets on the future price of bitcoin. The average price of an actual bitcoin was $17,184 in early trading on private exchanges, according to Coindesk. The price of the digital currency has soared this year, having begun 2017 under $1,000.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent, while France's CAC-40 slid 0.4 percent. London's FTSE 100 was flat. Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.5 percent, while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.5 percent. Seoul's Kospi added 0.8 percent. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 picked up 0.1 percent and India's Sensex added 0.4 percent.