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US stocks gain on oil rebound; waiting on the Fed

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose Wednesday, breaking a string of declines, as investors waited for the latest statement from the Federal Reserve. Energy stocks led the gains as the price of oil recovered some of its recent losses.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 24 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,996 as of 12:13 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 158 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,228. The Nasdaq composite climbed 49 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,597.

FED MEETING: Investors will be assessing the statement from the Federal Reserve’s final meeting of the year on Wednesday and will be looking to see if U.S. policymakers drop a pledge to keep interest rates low for a “considerable time,” as the U.S. economy improves. The Fed will release a statement at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time and will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m.

THE QUOTE: “I’m looking for an overall more dovish statement, something that still tells me that they are not going to raise interest rates any time soon,” said Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, who believes the Fed will keep its “considerable time” phrase in the statement given that the recent slump in oil prices is driving down inflation.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that plunging gasoline costs pulled U.S. consumer prices lower in November, muting inflation across the entire economy.

Wren is recommending that investors use any pullback in the stock market to add to their stock holdings. He expects companies to keep boosting earnings as the economy continues to strengthen in 2015.

RUSSIA FOCUS: Russia remained in focus on concerns about the impact of the recent slide in the ruble. The currency has lost more than 50 percent of its value this year. After falling again early Wednesday, the ruble recovered and was 14 percent higher at 60 rubles to the dollar.

The currency recovered some of its losses Wednesday after Russian authorities indicated that they would sell foreign currency to relieve pressure on the ruble. The Russian currency has suffered in the wake of sliding oil prices and sanctions imposed over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine’s crisis.

ENERGY RALLY: Energy stocks led gains for the S&P 500 index as the price of oil recovered some of its recent losses. Stocks in the sector jumped 4.4 percent, reducing their losses in the last three months to 18 percent. Narbors Industries was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index, surging $1.30, or 12.32 percent, to $11.80.

OIL: U.S. crude turned higher in midday trading. Oil rose $2.51, or 4.5 percent, to $58.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

EARNING FAIL TO DELIVER: FedEx was one of the biggest losers in early trading after in the shipping company reported earnings that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The company said a jump in plane maintenance costs blunted gains the company reaped from managing costs, lowering its pension expense and growing its export package revenue. The company’s stock dropped $9.21, or 5.3 percent, to $165.07.

EUROPE’S DAY: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was 0.2 percent lower while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.1 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.10 percent from 2.06 percent late Tuesday. The euro was 0.8 percent lower at $1.2411 and the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 117.62 yen.