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Midday Market Update

Stocks Higher; Data, Fed in Focus

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U.S. Market    
Stocks were higher at midday as the Fed began its two-day policy meeting today, while economic data met expectations. 

The consumer price index increased to 0.1% for August, while the core index rose by 0.1%, as well. Compared with the same time last year, the overall index is 1.5% higher and the core index is up by 1.8%. The gradual price increases have brought inflation closer to the Fed's 2% target, and could be another sign that the Fed will begin to taper its bond-buying program, as many expect, following this week's meeting. 

Meanwhile the National Association of Home Builders reported that builder sentiment showed no change in September compared with last month, with the index remaining at its best reading since 2005. However, some economists are concerned about a possible slowing pace because September was the first month in five the index did not increase. 

The Dow and the S&P 500 were 0.3% higher at midday, while the Nasdaq was 0.6% higher. 

Stocks on the Move
 Microsoft (MSFT) announced a $40 billion share-repurchase plan this morning, and the plan will replace the previous $40 billion plan that would expire at the end of September. The tech giant also increased its dividend by more than one fifth to $0.28 per share, it's first dividend gain in more than a year. Shares were 0.7% higher at midday. 

Foreign Markets
Although movement in U.S. markets was upward, overseas markets turned in losses Tuesday. The FTSE 100 lost 0.8%, while the Paris CAC and the DAX each fell by 0.2%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite lost 2.1%. The Nikkei 225 ended 0.6% lower, and the Hang Seng fell by 0.3%. 

Kevin O'Shaughnessy does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.