U.S. Stocks Begin Higher, Bolstered By Fed Expectations

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks on Tuesday started higher amid optimism the Federal Reserve would again trim interest rates as well as upbeat news on the corporate front, including AT&T Inc.'s plan to hike its dividend and Texas Instruments Inc.'s outlook.

"All eyes on today's FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] decision," said Tom DiGaloma, head of U.S. Treasury trading at Jefferies & Co.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14.1 points to 13,741.1, led by AT&T , which was up 4.3% after the telecommunications giant said it's increasing its dividend by 13% and buying back 400 million shares.

The S&P 500 gained 0.9 points to 1,516.86, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 4.93 points to 2,723.88.

Crude-oil futures rose $1.29 to $89.15 a barrel, while gold futures gained 1 cent to $813.6 an ounce.

And blue-chip Boeing Co. late Monday increased its quarterly dividend payment by 14% to 40 cents a share.

Texas Instruments shares jumped in pre-open trade after the chipmaker lifted the low end of its earnings and revenue outlook, though it also shaved the top end of its revenue outlook. Strength in demand for chips to power notebooks offset weakness in wireless, the firm said.

Washington Mutual shares fell 9.9% after the lender said it would exit the subprime lending business and cut 3,150 jobs. It also plans to slash its dividend and sell $2.5 billion in convertible preferred stocks.

By Kate Gibson