* Fed statement at 2 p.m. ET; Yellen speech to follow
* Feb retail sales record smallest increase in 6 months
* Twitter slips after prominent accounts hacked
* Indexes up: Dow 0.31 pct, S&P 0.45 pct, Nasdaq 0.35 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Tanya Agrawal
March 15 U.S. stocks rose in early afternoon
trading on Wednesday, with investors counting down to the
conclusion of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, where the
central bank is widely expected to raise rates for the first
time this year.
The Fed is scheduled to release its latest policy statement
along with updated economic forecasts at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).
Fed Chair Janet Yellen is due to hold a press conference half an
Traders have priced in more than a 90 percent chance of a
quarter point rate increase, according to Fed fund futures.
Attention is turning to whether the U.S. central bank will
signal an even faster pace of monetary tightening this year than
the current three rate hikes that it projected at the December
The U.S. economy has been strengthening, with the labor
market nearing full employment and inflation perking up. Markets
are also betting on a potential economic boost from President
Donald Trump's proposed fiscal policies.
"Overall expectations are largely priced in that we will
have a hike today and the question will be if the Fed will be a
little bit more hawkish," said Myles Clouston, senior director
at Nasdaq Advisory Services in New York.
"If inflation heads in the right direction, four hikes may
be warranted. The key here is the Fed really needs to stay ahead
of the curve so that they're not in a difficult position where
they have to raise too quickly."
At 13:13 p.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was
up 65.41 points, or 0.31 percent, at 20,902.78 and the S&P 500
was up 10.72 points, or 0.45 percent, at 2,376.17.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 20.61 points, or 0.35
percent, at 5,877.43.
All 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the energy
index's 1.08 percent rise leading the gainers.
Oil prices rebounded on Wednesday, lifted by a surprise
drawdown in U.S. inventories and data from the International
Energy Agency suggested OPEC cuts should create a crude deficit
in the first half of 2017.
Shares of oil majors Exxon and Chevron were
up about 0.6 percent.
Economic data showed U.S. retail sales registered their
smallest increase in six months in February.
Other data showed consumer prices barely rose in February
but the underlying trend remained consistent with rising
inflation. The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index
ticked up 0.1 percent last month, after jumping 0.6 percent in
Apple was up 0.7 percent at $139.97 after RBC
raised its price target on the company. The stock provided the
biggest boost to the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Twitter was down 2.7 percent at $14.91 after a number of
prominent accounts on the microblogging website were hacked.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,246
to 612. On the Nasdaq, 1,968 issues rose and 831 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 40 new 52-week highs and two new
low, while the Nasdaq recorded 96 new highs and 35 new lows.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D'Silva & Shri