NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher in midday trading Wednesday as investors wait to hear from the Federal Reserve and work through company news, including a possible deal between two giant beer makers. Energy stocks rose sharply following a more than 5 percent jump in the price of oil.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 88 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,683 as of 12:10 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,989 and the Nasdaq composite added 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,873.
FED FOCUS: Investors are closely watching the Federal Reserve and the start of its two-day policy meeting Wednesday, which could end with the central bank raising its benchmark interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade. Investors remain mixed on the chance of an increase.
Some economists say it's time to start gradually raising interest rates given that the U.S. job market has recovered significantly. Others argue rates should remain low given the recent global turmoil in financial markets triggered by concerns over China.
MERGER BREWING: SABMiller, a major beer maker whose brands include Miller and Foster's, jumped 20 percent in London after the company said it received a takeover offer from Anheuser-Busch InBev. A combination of the two would create a massive conglomerate worth roughly $275 billion. Any potential deal would be sure to receive heavy scrutiny from regulators in the U.S. and overseas.
U.S.-traded shares of Anheuser-Busch rose $7.28, or 7 percent, to $115.30. Other beer makers also rose. Molson Coors jumped $9.38, or 13 percent, to $81.98.
JOB CUTS: Hewlett-Packard rose $1.29, or 5 percent, to $28.39 after the company announced it would cut 30,000 jobs, or roughly 10 percent of its workforce, and would split into two separate companies.
MISSED DELIVERY: FedEx sank $5.62, or 4 percent, to $148.43 after the company's quarterly results missed analysts' expectations and issued a warning to its full-year results late Tuesday.
ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude jumped $2.40, or 5.4 percent, to $46.99 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international types of oil imported into the U.S., gained $2.33 to $50.90 a barrel.
Oil company stocks followed crude oil higher, with the energy sector of the S&P 500 up more than 2 percent. Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the oil giants, were up 2 percent each as well.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.28 percent. The dollar was little changed at 120.58 yen and the euro edged up to $1.13