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US Indexes Higher Ahead of Fed Statement; Oil Demand Forecast Lowered

Stocks are higher in mid-day trading while investors await word from the Federal Reserve on interest rates and digest retail sales data, which showed slowing ahead of the holiday shopping season

Investors continue to keep a wary eye on Europe's debt crisis, but today are more anxious over the scheduled Federal Open Market Committee monetary policy meeting, at 2:15 pm Eastern.

The International Energy Agency said on Tuesday that it has lowered its forecasts for global oil demand for 2011 and 2012 by 160,000 barrels a day and 200,000 barrels a day, respectively. The agency cites the "more precarious economic backdrop" and weaker fourth-quarter data.

Retail spending in the U.S. tapered off in November, with sales rising 0.2% compared to 0.6% in October, according to the Commerce Department. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected retail sales to rise by 0.5% overall, or by 0.4% excluding the auto sector.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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