NEW YORK, March 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks opened higher Wednesday as Wall Street digested a batch of economic reports ahead of the Federal Reserve's announcement in the afternoon.
By midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 38.30 points, or 0.18 percent, to 20,875.67. The S&P 500 added 4.91 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,370.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 10.18 points, or 0.17 percent, to 5,866.99.
Investors were eagerly awaiting the U.S. central bank's decision on whether to hike interest rates after the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting.
The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates at this meeting. According to the CME Group's FedWatch tool, market expectations for a March rate hike were around 95 percent.
On the economic front, the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all urban consumers increased 0.1 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, in line with market consensus, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.
The index for all items less food and energy (core CPI) increased 0.2 percent in February, which rose 2.2 percent over the past 12 months.
Meanwhile, advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for February 2017 came in at 474 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 0.1 percent from the previous month, and 5.7 percent above February 2016.
"The market reaction was rather muted to today's slew of data, both because it was largely as expected but also due to the Fed's statement and press conference beginning at 2pm today," said Jay Morelock, an economist at FTN Financial, in a note.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks closed lower as oil prices dropped and investors became cautious ahead of the Fed's policy decision. Enditem