* Fed to release minutes at 2:00 p.m. ET
* Ford, GM rise on December U.S. auto sales
* Indexes up: Dow 0.19 pct, S&P 0.32 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct
(Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Jan 4 U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, extending
gains into the second trading day of the new year, helped by
advances in consumer discretionary and bank stocks.
Investors are awaiting the minutes of the Federal Reserve's
Dec. 13-14 meeting in which it raised interest rates. The
minutes are due to be released at 2:00 p.m. ET (1900 GMT).
The central bank had cited strength in the labor market and
a slight uptick in inflation among reasons for its move.
Investors will pore over the minutes to assess policymakers'
view on the economy and the incoming administration.
With just over two weeks left before President-elect Donald
Trump takes office, investors are waiting for the finer details
of his proposed policies such as tax cuts and higher fiscal
The S&P 500 financial sector rose 0.5 percent and
provided the biggest boost to the broader index. Big U.S. banks
are set on getting Congress loosen some banking regulations,
seeing an opportunity in the incoming Republican-led
The consumer discretionary index got a lift from
Comcast, which rose 1 percent after Macquarie raised
its price target to $76.
At 9:45 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was
up 37.61 points, or 0.19 percent, at 19,919.37, the S&P 500
was up 7.36 points, or 0.32 percent, at 2,265.19 and the
Nasdaq Composite was up 21.93 points, or 0.4 percent, at
Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by
gains in healthcare and utilities.
Shares of General Motors and Ford were up more
than 3 percent after the automakers posted strong U.S. sales for
Agile Therapeutics lost 58 percent of its value in
heavy trading and is set to open at a record low after the
company provided an update on its contraceptive patch trial.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,196
to 528. On the Nasdaq, 1,771 issues rose and 614 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 10 new 52-week highs and no new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 45 new highs and three new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by