Stocks Opened Higher ahead of Federal Reserve

U.S. stocks opened higher on Wednesday with investors’ focus on the Federal Reserve’s policy statement and news conference by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke later in the day. The Dow Jones industrial average lately gained 75.45 points, or 0.52 percent, to 14,531.27. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 8.74 points, or 0.56 percent, to 1,557.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 17.65 points, or 0.55 percent, to 3,246.75.

The Federal Reserve looks set to sustain its $85 billion monthly bond-buying stimulus despite improving economic data as a new flare-up in the euro zone crisis reminds officials of a risky global environment.

FedEx (FDX) reported quarterly earnings on Wednesday that fell shy of analysts’ expectations as it saw  continued weakness in international air freight market and consumers chose less expensive and slower services. The No. 2 U.S. package-delivery company said net income fell to $361 million, or $1.13 per share, in the third quarter, from $521 million, or $1.65 per share, a year earlier.

The global airline industry has forecast a modest improvement in global net profits for 2013, crediting a backdrop of rising optimism about the world’s economy — particularly in the United States and Europe. The International Air Transport Association, whose 240 member airlines carry 84 percent of all passengers and cargo, upgraded its financial outlook Wednesday to expected profits of $10.6 billion this year, mainly based on more passengers and cargo.

General Mills Inc.’s (NYSE:GIS) fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 1.8% as the maker of Cheerios cereal sold more products in its base business, as measured by weight, for the first time in two years. The company also raised its full-year adjusted earnings estimate by a penny to between $2.66 and $2.68.

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