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Stocks were mixed in early afternoon trading today as the Federal Reserve was meeting and investors looked ahead to an another hike in interest rates.

At 1 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 17.25, or 0.17 percent, at 10,403.62.

The broader gauges were narrowly mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.65, or 0.06 percent, to 1,164.73. The Nasdaq composite index fell 7.15, or 0.35 percent, to 2,036.18.

The Fed was expected to nudge interest rates up this afternoon for a fourth time this year, acting on the belief that the economy has finally emerged from an extended soft patch.

"If the Fed increases rates because there is strength in the economy, I don't see it as a negative sign," said Eric Green, director of research at Penn Capital Management, which manages $1 billion in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. "The stock market can continue to rise with higher rates."

Wall Street was also eyeing energy prices, as oil futures hung near the $47-per-barrel mark after the International Energy Agency reported lower demand. The government's weekly report on inventory data was due at midmorning. Light, sweet crude for December delivery was up 2 cents at $47.39.

Federated Department Stores was up 55 cents at $54.35 as a rise in fiscal third-quarter earnings topped analysts' expectations, thanks to improved sales performance in October. The operator of Macy's and Bloomingdale's department stores beat per-share estimates by 3 cents.

Cisco fell $1.13. or 5.7 percent, $18.62. The company said first- quarter sales were $5.97 billion, less than the $6.02 billion average analyst estimate compiled by Thomson Financial. Chief Executive Officer John Chambers said sales growth will slow this quarter and it's "too early to say" whether customers are becoming more optimistic about the economy.

Shares of Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. dropped after UBS AG analyst Benjamin Reitzes reduced his rating on the two largest makers of personal computers, citing slowing demand in 2005 and increased competition in computer printers.

Dell slipped 23 cents to $37.20.

Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drugmaker, lost 81 cents to $27.18. It's 2.8 percent decline was the largest in the Dow average. Patients taking Bextra painkiller had more than double the number of heart attacks and strokes as those given placebos, according to preliminary results of a new study, the New York Times reported. Bextra is a rival medication to Merck & Co.'s Vioxx, which was withdrawn from the market in September because of a link to heart attacks.

National Semiconductor Corp., which makes chips that boost battery life in mobile electronics, lost 25 cents to $16.27. KLA-Tencor Corp., the world's biggest maker of semiconductor- inspection gear, fell 73 cents to $44.40

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, was up 3.03, or 0.50 percent, at 609.67.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.27 percent. In afternoon trading in Europe, France's CAC-40 was up 0.40 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.36 percent and Germany's DAX index gained 0.59 percent.

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