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The Markets Now: Stocks Remain Higher as Investors Await Fed Policy Decision

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Plus, FedEx misses analysts' estimates for its third quarter.

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Stocks have remained higher today as euro-area policymakers try to work out a bailout plan for Cyprus. The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) increased 0.42% to 14,515.99. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) climbed 0.55% to 1,556.89, and the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 0.53% to 3,246.10. Investors also await the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision after the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, finishes its meeting at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The FOMC will also release forecasts for GDP, the PCE price index, the civilian unemployment rate, and potential changes to the fed funds rate.

The Mortgage Banker's Association reported that the purchase applications index fell by 4%, and the refinance index dropped by 8%. Increasing mortgage rates account for the weakness in mortgage applications with the average 30-year mortgage for conforming loans at 3.82%, a 1-basis-point increase from last week. The purchase applications index measures applications at mortgage lenders, and it is the leading indicator for single-family home sales and housing construction.

The Energy Information Administration reported that oil inventories declined 1.3 million barrels last week to 382.7 million barrels. Fewer imports and a rise in refinery runs caused the reduction in oil inventories. Refineries operated at 83.5% of capacity, or 2.5% higher than last week.

FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) plunged 6.02% to $100.05. The second largest US package-delivery company reported today that its third-quarter net income dropped 31% to $361 million, or $1.13 per share, from $521 million, or $1.65 per share, in the same quarter last year. The company cited restructuring costs and weakness in its air freight express business as the reason for the weaker numbers. Revenue increased 4% from $10.56 billion to $11 billion.

Analysts had expected FedEx to report earnings of $1.38 per share on $10.85 billion in revenue.

Walgreen (NYSE:WAG) rose 2.62% to $45.91. The drug store chain continues to rise a day after it reported earnings that beat analysts' estimates and announced a new pharmaceutical distribution partnership with AmerisourceBergen Corporation (NYSE:ABC).

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) fell 1.55% to $86.90. The biggest producer of construction and mining equipment reported that global machine sales fell 13% for the first three months of 2013. During the prior three months, sales fell by 4%. Compared to the same period last year, purchases in the Asia-Pacific region dropped 26% and purchases in the North American region dropped 12%.

Corning (NYSE:GLW) increased 2.77% to $13.19. Corning has released a new family of single mode optical fibers, called Corning SMF-28 Ultra fiber. The stock currently trades below its book value.

United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X) dropped 1.53% to $19.43. The steel producer announced its intention to offer $250 million in senior convertible notes due 2019 and $250 million in senior notes due 2021.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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