US stocks open higher ahead of Fed minutes

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New York, Feb 17 (IANS) US stocks opened higher on Wednesday as Wall Street digested a batch of economic reports ahead of the release of Federal Reserve’s minutes in the afternoon.

US privately-owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,099,000, missing market consensus, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

This is 3.8 percent below the revised December estimate of 1,143,000, but is 1.8 percent above the January 2015 rate of 1,080,000.

The seasonally adjusted Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand advanced 0.1 percent in January, beating market estimates, the US Labor Department announced Wednesday.

On an unadjusted basis, the final demand index declined 0.2 percent for the 12 months ending in January.

Meanwhile, investors also kept a close eye on the minutes from the central bank’s January 26-27 meeting, which were expected to give more clues on the US economic outlook.

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Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 97.11 points, or 0.60 percent, to 16,293.52. The S&P 500 added 14.20 points, or 0.75 percent, to 1,909.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 36.42 points, or 0.82 percent, to 4,472.38.

On Tuesday, US stocks posted solid gains after markets were closed on Monday for Presidents’ Day, as a rebound across the global equity market boosted investor sentiment.

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