Adam Shell and Kim Hjelmgaard
NEW YORK -- Stocks jumped Tuesday as the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Dow Jones industrial average closed at all-time highs.
Investors are expecting the Federal Reserve to further delay the start of a plan to scale back its bond-buying program as policymakers started a two-day meeting Tuesday to discuss monetary policy.
The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 111.42 points, or 0.7%, to 15,680.35, it's first record close since Sept. 18 when it hit 15,676.94. The S&P 500 index continued to push further into record territory as it rose 9.84 points, or 0.6%, to close at 1,771.95.
The Nasdaq composite gained 12.21 points, or 0.3%, to 3,952.34. The Nasdaq remains far below the record high of 5,048.62 it set in March 2000.
LIBOR CASE: Dutch bank fined $1.1 billion
WAL-MART: Promoting 25,000 employees
It is widely expected that the central bank will continue to its current market-friendly policy of buying government bonds and mortgage securities that total $85 billion a month. The Fed will announce its decision Wednesday afternoon.
Hans Mikkelsen, a fixed-income strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, says there are two camps in regard to when the Fed will start to "taper" its asset purchases.
"One is centered around a December through March period, while the other camp is thinking further into 2014," Mikkelsen said in a research note. "Either the economic data rebounds and the Fed tapers early, or it remains weak for now and tapering is pushed toward the middle of 2014."
MONETARY POLICY: Fed meets with 'taper' plan likely on hold
CONFIDENCE: Consumer gauge plunges on showdown
Investors were digesting good but not great earnings from big names like iPad maker Apple, which were released Monday, and drug maker Pfizer. Wall Street also got a batch of economic data that suggests the government shutdown has slowed growth.
On the earnings front, Apple shares tumbled 2.5% to $516.68 after it topped analysts earnings-per-share estimates but posted revenue figures that failed to wow investors.
APPLE RESULTS: Apple's holiday forecast raises margin concern
Shares of Pfizer were trading up 1.7% to $31.25 after topping profit estimates by 2 cents and reporting revenue in line with expectations.
Overall, 69% of the 281 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported third-quarter earnings have topped expectations, which is above the 20-year average of 63%, according to Thomson Reuters.
On the economic front, retail sales for September came in on the light side, declining 0.1%, below the flat reading economists' expected.
Consumer confidence in October also took a hit, due in large part to the "negative confidence shock" caused by fiscal policy concerns in the nation's capitol. Due in large part to the 16-day government shutdown, the Conference Board reported that its U.S. consumer confidence index fell to 71.2 in October, which was well below September's 80.2 reading and the consensus estimate of 75, according to Cooper Howes of Barclays.
On Monday, the S&P 500 closed edged 0.1% to a record 1,762.11. The Dow fell less than 0.1% to 15,568.93. The Nasdaq composite closed down 0.1% at 3,940.13.
MONDAY: Stocks mixed; S&P 500 edges up to record close
In energy markets, benchmark crude for December delivery was down 47 cents at $98.21 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 83 cents to $98.68 on Monday.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.5% to 14,325.98 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2% to 22,846.54.
European markets were higher. The United Kingdom's FTSE 100 index added 0.7% to 6,774.73 and France's CAC index gained 0.6% to 4,278.09. Germany's DAX index rose 0.5% to 9,022.04.