Dec. 12, 2012 at 9:50 AM ET
Stocks added slightly to gains after the Federal Reserve announced plans to ramp up its stimulus to the economy.
Shortly after the announcement, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 23.73 points, or 0.18 percent, at 13,272.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 3.85 points, or 0.27 percent, at 1,431.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.20 point, or 0.01 percent, at 3,022.50.
The Dow is looking to post its sixth-straight day of positive movement.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded below 16.
Most key S&P sectors opened in positive territory, led by industrials and financials.
The Federal Reserve ramped up its stimulus to the economy, expressing disappointment with the pace of recovery in employment as contentious U.S. budget talks heighten uncertainty about the outlook.
The central bank replaced a more modest stimulus program due to expire at year-end with a fresh round of Treasury purchases that will increase its balance sheet. It committed to monthly purchases of $45 billion in Treasuries on top of the $40 billion per month in mortgage-backed bonds it started buying in September.
In a surprise move, the Fed also adopted numerical thresholds for policy, a step that had not been expected until early next year. In particular, the Fed said it will likely keep official rates near zero for as long as unemployment remains above 6.5 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than 2.5 percent, and long-term inflation expectations remain contained.
The Fed also releases its latest economic forecasts at 2 pm. ET.
On the economic front, import prices dropped 0.9 percent in November, posting the biggest fall in five months, as food and fuel costs tumbled, according to the Labor Department. Economists expected a decline of 0.5 percent.
Meanwhile, efforts to resolve the U.S.'s looming "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending hikes appeared to have moved on a step after it emerged that President Barack Obama and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner had discussed new proposals over the phone on Tuesday. The looming fiscal cliff is the biggest worry for Wall Street at the moment, according to a CNBC survey.
Apple edged higher amid reports that the tech giant is working with Hon Hai and Sharp to test designs for televisions.
Among earnings, Costco gained after the wholesale retailer beat Wall street expectations, thanks to higher membership fees.
Joy Global posted earnings that topped expectations, but shares declined after the mining equipment maker said its fiscal 2013 forecast would fall short of estimates.
Weekly mortgage applications rose last week as loan requests hit its third-straight high point for the year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
© 2013 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved