Wall Street advanced sharply Tuesday as the Federal Reserve opened a two-day meeting expected to bring another interest rate cut to revitalize...

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NEW YORK — Wall Street advanced sharply Tuesday as the Federal Reserve opened a two-day meeting expected to bring another interest rate cut to revitalize the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 96.41 to 12,480.30.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, slipped 12 cents to close at $32.60 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, soared $3.36 to $80.96.

Broader indexes were also higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.33 to 1,362.29, and the Nasdaq composite advanced 8.15 to 2,358.06.

The Fed’s rate decision is clearly the market’s focus this week, and trading has been marked by investors’ conjectures about policymakers’ thoughts on the weak economy and crunched financial industry. With an announcement not expected until this afternoon, the market in the meantime digested data on earnings, consumer spending and durable goods.

Investors did get some encouragement about the economy after the Commerce Department said orders for big-ticket items rose 5.2 percent in December, the widest jump in five months. In addition, the Conference Board reported consumer confidence fell in January — pretty much as expected.

Economic data will continue to be scrutinized as investors try to determine what the Fed’s take is on the economy. Investors are angling for a half-point cut following an emergency three-quarter-point cut last week.

“The market is just in a holding pattern,” said Todd Leone, managing director of equity trading at Cowen & Co. “It seems we’ve hit a short-term bottom, and the market has been stabilizing as we wait to hear what the Fed says.”

Wall Street has been extremely volatile in recent weeks amid fears of a recession and further write-downs in the financial sector. However, that has given way to a more quiet tone this week as investors looked for their second-straight day of gains before the Fed’s decision.