NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Higher-than-expected earnings from a pair of brokerages and a surprisingly strong housing starts report were among the factors giving stocks a slight lift early Tuesday.
After 10 minutes of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average (down 79.57 to 10,204.89, Charts), the Standard & Poor's 500 (up 1.50 to 1,123.70, Charts) index and the Nasdaq composite (up 5.58 to 1,913.65, Charts) all added a few points.
Goldman Sachs (GS: unchanged at $91.68, Research, Estimates) and Lehman Brothers (LEH: unchanged at $76.02, Research, Estimates) both posted third-quarter earnings that were higher than expected. Goldman's earnings grew from a year earlier, while Lehman's fell. Stocks of both companies rose in early trading.
In other earnings news, Adobe Systems (ADBE: up $2.23 to $50.18, Research, Estimates) reported earnings of 43 cents per share after the close Monday. That was more than expected and up from a year earlier.
Also adding early support: the morning release of a August homebuilding report. Housing starts rose to a 2 million unit annual rate from an upwardly revised 1.988 million unit rate in July. Economists expected starts to fall.
Building permits fell to a 1.952 million unit annual rate in August, down from a 2.066 million unit rate in July and a steeper fall than what analysts surveyed by Briefing.com were expecting.
Tuesday's biggest event is the Federal Reserve meeting and decision on interest rates, due at around 2:15 p.m. ET.
The central bank is meeting to discuss short-term interest rates, and is widely expected to boost the fed funds rate, a key overnight bank lending rate, by a quarter-percentage point to 1.75 percent. What the Fed says about future rate hikes will be closely watched as well.
Treasury prices fell, pushing the 10-year note yield up to 4.07 percent from 4.05 percent late Monday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
In currency trading, the dollar was mixed versus the yen and euro.
Oil prices inched higher in the early going, with Brent oil futures up 22 cents to $43.12 a barrel in London trading.
In global trade, Asian-Pacific markets closed mixed, and European stocks rose at midday