Stocks are mixed higher before Fed announcement

FILE - In this Tuesday Oct. 29, 2013, file photo, a specialist works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. Federal Reserve opened its two-day meeting Tuesday in the wake of a 16-day partial government shutdown that all but killed any chance, most believe, that policy makers will pull back on an aggressive economic stimulus campaign. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mixed in early trading on Wall Street Wednesday as investors wait to hear what the Federal Reserve says about the future of its massive economic stimulus program.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up five points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,693 in the first 45 minutes of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was flat at 1,772 and the Nasdaq composite index was off two points at 3,949.

The central bank will release its latest policy statement at 2 p.m. Eastern. Investors expect that the Fed will not make any changes to its economic stimulus program and keep its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero.

The Fed had been expected to cut back on its bond-buying program last month. However, after much debate, Fed officials decided to keep the economic stimulus program in place.

Since the Fed's last meeting, the economy suffered a blow because of the 16-day partial shutdown of the U.S. government and the near-breach of the nation's borrowing limit. As a result, economists say it's unlikely the Fed would make any changes to its stimulus program until early next year.

In other economic data, the Labor Department said consumer prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.2 percent in September. It's a sign that inflation remains under control and, if the Fed does decide to extend out its stimulus program, it will likely not cause inflation in the near term.

October has been a big month for the stock market. With just two days of trading left, the S&P 500 is up 5.3 percent, putting the index on track for its best month since October 2011.

Investors had another dose of quarterly earnings to work through as well.

General Motors rose 90 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $36.94. After taking out one-time effects, the nation's largest automaker earned $1.7 billion, or 96 cents per share, beat analysts' expectations of 94 cents per share.

Western Union plunged $3.30, or 17 percent, to $15.95. The money transfer company said late Wednesday that it may not see any profit growth in 2014 due to increasing regulation and compliance costs.

Starbucks, Visa and Facebook report their own quarterly results after the close of trading.