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US stock market edges higher ahead of Fed policy statement; strong earnings lift Apple, Boeing

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U.S. stocks drifted higher in afternoon trading Wednesday, regaining some lost ground earlier in the day. Strong earnings from Apple, Boeing and other companies helped lift the market ahead of a mid-afternoon monetary policy update by the Federal Reserve.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,427 as of 1:14 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained one point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,030. The Nasdaq composite added 21 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,702. The indexes are rebounding after closing sharply lower on Tuesday.

FED WATCH: The Fed ends its first policy meeting of the year Wednesday afternoon, after which it is widely expected to repeat its pledge to stay patient in raising interest rates from record lows. Inflation has fallen further below the Fed's target rate, thanks to plunging oil prices and a surging dollar that makes imports cheaper. That could prompt the Fed to delay any rate increases beyond June, the earliest that most economists predict the Fed will raise rates.

THE QUOTE: Investors also want to know whether the Fed's statement will include any reference to heightened concerns about global growth, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist for Prudential Financial.

"If they put that in there and you have more of this worry over currencies and so on, then perhaps (the Fed) will be patient even longer than the market expects," Krosby said. "It's not a question of if the Fed raises rates, it's when."

SECTOR WATCH: Six of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 rose, led by technology stocks. The sector is coming off a steep decline on Tuesday. Energy stocks fell the most as the slide in oil prices resumed. The sector is down 3.9 percent this year.

OUT OF GAS: Shares in several oil and gas exploration companies, as well as drilling services and equipment providers, tumbled as oil prices continued to decline. Nabors Industries dropped the most among companies in the S&P 500. It slid $1.05, or 8.8 percent, to $10.83. Cabot Oil & Gas fell $1.70, or 6 percent, to $26.79, while Denbury Resources lost 62 cents, or 8.7 percent, to $6.52.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.36 to $44.87 in New York. The U.S. releases its inventory report Wednesday. The contract added $1.08 on Tuesday to close at $46.23.

IPHONE FEVER: Shares in Apple surged $8.30, or 7.6 percent, to $117.44 after the tech giant reported record-smashing earnings for its latest quarter. Apple said late Tuesday that it sold 74.5 million iPhones during the three months that ended Dec. 31, beating Wall Street expectations.

PHOTO: Specialists work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. U.S. stocks are tumbling in midday trading, weighed down by disappointing forecasts from big-name companies and an unexpected drop in orders of long-lasting goods. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialists work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. U.S. stocks are tumbling in midday trading, weighed down by disappointing forecasts from big-name companies and an unexpected drop in orders of long-lasting goods. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

JETSETTER: Boeing's profit vaulted 19 percent in the fourth-quarter on strong demand for commercial jets airliners. The results topped Wall Street expectations by a wide margin. The stock rose $8.20, or 6.2 percent, to $140.68.

SPINOFF BOOST:

Yahoo shares rose 2.1 percent a day after the Internet company said it would transfer ownership of 384 million shares in China's Alibaba Group into an entity called SpinCo. Yahoo added $1.02 to $49.01. Shares in Alibaba shed $3.02, or 3 percent, to $99.92.

BEATING EXPECTATIONS: A day after several big-name companies turned in disappointing financial results, investors welcomed a batch of better earnings. Along with Boeing, video-game maker Electronic Arts, storage container seller Tupperware Brands and computer chip maker Freescale Semiconductor each reported better-than-expected earnings. Shares in Electronic Arts rose $6.29, or 13 percent, to $54.70, while Tupperware gained $7.39, or 12.4 percent, to $67.13. Freescale jumped $5.50, or 20.9 percent, to $31.85.

STURDY RESULTS: U.S. Steel reported a drop in fourth-quarter profit and revenue, but its financial results beat Wall Street expectations. The stock climbed $3.01, or 14.2 percent, to $24.28.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: European markets were mixed as investors monitored developments in Greece, where the new government said it would change many of the budget measures promised to eurozone creditor nations in exchange for rescue loans. Germany's DAX rose 0.8 percent, while France's CAC 40 shed 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.6 percent.

CURRENCY: The dollar edged lower to 117.69 yen from Tuesday's 117.80 yen. The euro edged down to $1.1346 from the previous session's $1.1362.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.78 percent.


AP Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this story.

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Trader Jonathan Niles, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. U.S. stocks moved higher in early trading Wednesday after very strong earnings from Apple and Boeing. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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