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S&P 500 nears record high amid FOMC

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S&P 500 nears record high amid FOMC

The Standard and Poor’s 500 rose for the tenth time in the last 11 sessions as the FOMC coalesced in Washington for its September meetings. The benchmark index approached its record high of 1,709.67 as consumer staples, healthcare and technology stocks soared.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) led all trade activities after announcing it would boost dividends by more than 20 percent in an attempt to reward investors. The company advanced more than 0.3 percent to $32.93 a share.

The S&P 500’s biggest gainer on the day was Safeway Inc. The supermarket chain soared more than 10.5 percent to $30.99 after announcing it would prevent a hostile takeover. Safeway said it had learned an unnamed investor had accumulated a huge portion of the company’s stock. Safeway’s defensive plan comes into effect if an investor acquires 10 percent or more of the company’s stock.

Monster Beverage Corporation (NASDAQ:MNST) and Kroger (NYSE:KR) rounded out the top performers in the consumer staples segment, both advancing at least 2.2 percent. Elsewhere, DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. led all healthcare stocks with a gain of more than 4.4 percent. The S&P 500 closed out the day at 1,704.76, a gain of 0.42 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced more than 34 points to 15,529.70. The Dow put up three consecutive days of triple digit gains last week, helping it eke closer to its record highs.

Elsewhere, the NASDAQ Composite erased Monday’s loss with a gain of 0.75 percent, sending it to 3,745.80. Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) eroded four consecutive losing sessions with a gain of 1.16 percent.

The market’s eyes will shift to the FOMC Wednesday to determine whether or not recent revelations are enough to warrant a tapering of the Federal Reserve’s $85 billion in monthly asset purchases. According to 34 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, the Fed will taper its bond purchases by $10 billion. However, some market participants are less than convinced a taper will occur, due to weaker growth data over the past several weeks, led by consecutive months of weaker-than-projected job growth.

Fed officials will face a heavy speaking schedule following the wrap up of the September FOMC meetings. The Fed will give a post-meeting statement, new economic projections and press conference following Wednesday’s discussions, feeding into several speaking arrangements from regional Fed presidents on Thursday.

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