Techs Edge Higher Ahead of Fed

Tech stocks edged higher Monday ahead of the first Federal Reserve meeting under new chairman Ben Bernanke, while blue chips spent the day under water.

The Fed is expected to continue its nearly two-year campaign with another quarter-point rate hike on Tuesday. Investors are hoping that the Fed will signal that the rate increases will soon end, but Bernanke is unlikely to offer greater clarity than the Fed did under Alan Greenspan, at least not at his first meeting.

After the Fed meeting, corporate earnings will likely become the market’s main focus, with first-quarter reports set to be delivered in April. With wholesale inflation rising faster than consumer inflation, corporate earnings and margins may continue to get squeezed. That said, companies’ inability to pass on rising costs to consumers has kept the Fed from having to raise interest rates more aggressively.

The Nasdaq rose 3 to 2315, the S&P 500 slipped 1 to 1301, and the Dow lost 30 to 11,250. Volume declined to 1.98 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.91 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 18-14 on the NYSE, and by a few issues on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 47% on the NYSE, and 64% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 136-35 on the NYSE, and 229-23 on the Nasdaq.

Intel edged higher on multiple upgrades, as analysts said new products could boost the company in its battle with AMD , but that margins are likely to remain under pressure.

Foundry Networks gained 4% on an upgrade.

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