Sept.17 - Summary: Stocks crept higher as many investors believe there will be no surprises following a two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve; U.S. poverty rate, median income unchanged; Higher rents eat at consumer wallets, while higher rates worry homebuilders; Boeing tries again with new Dreamliner. Conway G. Gittens reports.
This drive in to work closely watched as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke prepares to meet or miss expectations. Stocks moved slightly higher across the board as investors bet the Fed will announce fewer bond purchases on Wednesday. Here's the ideal outcome in the words of long-time Fed watcher David Kotok. SOUNDBITE: DAVID KOTOK, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CUMBERLAND ADVISORS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The best thing the Fed might do is something like this: We're going to take 85 (billion dollars) to 75 or 70 (billion dollars) and at the next meeting if things go well, we'll take it to 60 (billion dollars) and at the next meeting will go to 50 (billion dollars) or whatever and a year from now we get to zero and we reserve the right to change our mind." The latest statistics on poverty offer a sobering sign of an economy stuck in neutral. 46.5 million Americans lived in poverty last year, relatively same to the 46.2 million the year before, according to the Census Bureau. The median annual income also basically flat at just above $51,000. Sticking with the economy, consumer prices were pretty steady last month but Americans are digging deeper for health care and rent. Meanwhile, home builder sentiment stalled in September after four solid months of gains. Builders are concerned a spike in mortgage rates will scare away buyers. In corporate news, Boeing is trying to fly ahead with an addition to its Dreamliner fleet. The 787-9 made is public debut. This model is longer, can carry more passengers, and travel further than the 787-8; that model hit the skies in 2011. Let's just hope this version doesn't repeat the safety sins of its predecessor. Investors are betting Boeing learned its lesson, sending the stock to an all-time high. European investors tapped on the brakes after a drop in monthly car sales.