Stocks rise on economic reports before Fed policy meeting

U.S. stocks rose, extending a record for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as weaker-than-forecast data on factory output and housing fueled bets the Federal Reserve will maintain stimulus at its policy meeting. More

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Stocks rise on economic reports before Fed policy meeting

Posted 10/28/13

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks rose, extending a record for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as weaker-than-forecast data on factory output and housing fueled bets the Federal Reserve will maintain stimulus at its policy meeting.

Burger King Worldwide Inc. rose 4.9 after third-quarter sales topped estimates. Apple Inc. gained 0.5 percent before the maker of iPhones and iPads releases results after the market close. Dendreon Corp. jumped 9.1 percent as people familiar with the matter said the drugmaker is seeking a buyer. Merck & Co. slid 2.6 percent after reporting revenue that fell short of estimates.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent to 1,763.24 at 1:33 p.m. in New York, extending a record and leaving it poised for the best annual rally in a decade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 21.67 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,591.95. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 7.2 percent below the 30-day average for this time of day.

“The most bullish thing a market can do is go up, and that’s what it’s been doing,” Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at RW Baird & Co., said by phone from Sarasota, Fla. His firm oversees $100 billion. “With Janet Yellen coming on stream and the latest jobs data that was a disappointment, that suggests that the Fed will continue to ease and print money until at least March and probably beyond.”

The S&P 500 rallied 0.9 percent last week for its third straight weekly gain, as signs of slower economic recovery fueled bets the Fed will wait until March before scaling back bond purchases. The gauge has jumped 4.9 percent this month as lawmakers agreed to raise the government’s borrowing limit. The surge has pushed the index up 24 percent this year, headed for the best annual gain since 2003, when it added 26.4 percent.

Policy meeting

Fed policy makers meet Tuesday and Wednesday to consider whether economic growth is strong enough to start trimming $85 billion of bond purchases. This month’s 16-day government shutdown took at least $24 billion out of the economy and will spur central-bank policy makers to wait until March to scale back the stimulus, a Bloomberg survey showed this month.

Data today added to concern that growth slowed in the weeks before the shutdown. Factory output rose 0.1 percent in September, slower than the 0.3 percent forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey. Another report showed fewer Americans than forecast signed contracts to buy previously owned homes in September, the fourth straight month of declines. A report last week showed hiring grew at a slower-than-estimated pace.

‘Overly focused’

“Investors are going to be overly focused on this Fed meeting,” Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at St. Louis, Mo.-based Wells Fargo Advisors LLC., which oversees about $1.3 trillion, said by phone. “I suspect that when the statement is released there’s going to be very little change to it.”

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