* Fed announcement expected at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT)
* Yellen speaks half an hour later
* Traders see a more than 80 pct chance of hike on Wednesday
* Indexes up: Dow 0.60 pct, S&P 0.56 pct, Nasdaq 0.40 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 16 (Reuters) - Wall Street rose for the third straight day on Wednesday as investors prepare for a widely anticipated interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve later in the day.
The Fed will announce the outcome of its policy meeting at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), followed by a press conference by Chair Janet Yellen at 2:30 p.m. ET.
An increase in the Fed’s benchmark rate from near zero would be the first since June 29, 2006. After more than a year of posturing and a couple of false starts, the U.S. central bank is seen raising rates by a token 25 basis points.
Traders see an 81.4 percent chance of a rate hike, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
The Fed is expected to move gradually on subsequent rate hikes after the initial liftoff, according to a Reuters poll. That will help soothe jittery markets, which have been roiled recently by a rout in crude oil prices and a fall in the Chinese yuan.
The rate hike will be a highly symbolic move, coming exactly seven years to the day since the Fed cut rates to zero as the financial crisis engulfed the world.
Since then, the U.S. stock market has staged a spectacular bull-run, with the S&P 500 index more than doubling and the Nasdaq composite index briefly breaching its dotcom boom highs.
“It’s pretty locked and loaded that Yellen’s going to raise rates for the first time in almost 10 years. I think the most important part will be how the Fed explains the view of the economy in 2016,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
Hogan said traders have priced in a rate hike and if the Fed holds off today, it will be a shock to the market.
At 10:21 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 105.15 points, or 0.6 percent, at 17,630.06, the S&P 500 was up 11.5 points, or 0.56 percent, at 2,054.91 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 19.74 points, or 0.4 percent, at 5,015.10.
All 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the utilities index’s 1.5 percent rise leading the advancers.
Higher interest rates make loans more expensive, crimping profit margins. Banks, however, will benefit.
Goldman Sachs was up 0.7 percent and was the second biggest boost to the Dow. JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup were up about 0.5 percent.
The Fed has said it would raise rates when it saw a sustained recovery in the economy. While the unemployment rate has fallen to multi-year lows, inflation remains stuck below the Fed’s 2 percent target.
“We expect the start of policy normalization to serve as a catalyst for normalization of the investment environment,” said Mike O‘Rourke, chief market strategist at Jones Trading.
The prolonged period of extremely accommodative monetary policy has distorted investment objectives, he said in a note.
Honeywell was up 3 percent at $101.47 after the company reaffirmed its full-year outlook and was the biggest boost on the S&P.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,330 to 544. On the Nasdaq, 1,755 issues rose and 806 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed eight new 52-week highs and six new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 22 new highs and 46 new lows.
Reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Abhiram Nandakumar; Editing by Anil D'Silva