Stocks Opened Higher ahead of Federal Reserve Minutes

U.S. stocks opened higher on Wednesday, ahead of the release of Federal Reserve minutes that could fuel hopes of a pause to rate hikes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately gained 108.82 points, or 0.67% to 16,305.23. The S&P 500 rose 12.73 points, or 0.67%, to 1,908.31. The Nasdaq Composite rose 29.22 points, or 0.66%, to 4,465.18.

U.S. factories cranked out more autos, furniture and food last month, boosting production by the most since July. The Federal Reserve says manufacturing output rose 0.5 percent in January, after falling in four of the previous five months. Overall industrial production, which also includes mining and utilities, jumped 0.9 percent, the most in 14 months.

U.S. housing starts unexpectedly fell in January likely as bad weather disrupted building projects in some parts of the country, in what could be a temporary setback for the housing market. Groundbreaking fell 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.099 million units, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

Oil prices rose in volatile trade on Wednesday, as investors hoped an agreement between major producers to freeze oil production would be reached at a closely watched meeting in Iran. Brent crude rose 91 cents, or 2.9%, to $33.09 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 69 cents, or 2.4%, at $29.73 a barrel.

DSW Inc. agreed to buy online shoe retailer Ebuys Inc. for an upfront payment of $62.5 million, in a bid to expand its online presence and grow its business abroad. DSW said the deal will increase its off-price sourcing capabilities, as well as expand its digital presence.

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