Wall Street advanced at Tuesday's open, a day before the meeting of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting ends, with the S&P 500 index aiming for a new all-time high as Microsoft Corp. boosted its dividend.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.34% to 15547.70 points. The NASDAQ composite gained 0.40% to 3732.45 points. The S&P 500 index rose 0.30% to 1702.67 points as of 10:10 a.m. Eastern time.
The two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee begins Tuesday and will culminate with a statement at 2 p.m. Wednesday, followed by a news conference by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Most investors expect the central bank to announce a reduction to its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying programs.
Most market participants expect the Federal Open Market Committee to cut the Fed's $85 billion in monthly bond purchases by $10 billion to $15 billion, although some believe the move may come later in the year.
A Labor Department report today showed the cost of living in the U.S. rose less than forecast in August, a sign it will take time for inflation to reach the Fed's goal.
Shares of Microsoft rose 2% after the Dow component and software company hiked its quarterly payments to shareholders by 22% and set a $40 billion share-repurchase plan. The new repurchase program, which has no expiration date, replaces another $40 billion buyback plan that was due to lapse at the end of this month.
Microsoft is retooling its strategy and seeking a new chief executive officer. Steve Ballmer, who has run the company since 2000, announced plans last month to retire when a replacement is found.
The company also agreed to buy Nokia Oyj's phone business for $7.2 billion, aiming to bolster its position in mobile devices.
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Original headline: Wall Street higher ahead of FOMC, Microsoft climbs
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