* Dow less than 1 pct away from hitting 20,000 mark
* Fed begins two-day meeting; statement on Wednesday
* Tech stocks jump; Apple among the biggest boosts
* Indexes up: Dow 0.36 pct, S&P 0.43 pct, Nasdaq 0.99 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks hit all-time highs on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial average coming within striking distance of the 20,000 mark, as a post-election rally rolled on.
All the three major indexes hit fresh record highs shortly after the open. The Dow has risen about 8.6 percent since Nov.8, with President-elect Donald Trump’s expected agenda of economic stimulus and reduced taxes and regulations fueling a rally.
“The macro and fundamental background are favorable for stocks and we expect equities to trend higher as we head into 2017,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
“Investors are encouraged by expectations that Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress will enact pro-growth policies and we’re seeing modest inflation creep in while housing remains stable and wages continue to firm.”
Market participants are also keeping a close watch on the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting, starting today, where the central bank is widely expected to lift interest rates for the second time since the financial crisis.
A hike of 25 basis points in the Fed’s target range of 0.25-0.50 percent is priced in, but investors will be examining the Fed’s statement and economic forecasts for signs of the central bank’s thinking on how Trump’s election has affected the outlook for growth and inflation.
Still, there are some concerns regarding the high valuations. The S&P 500 is trading near 17.7 times forward 12-month earnings, above the 10-year median of 14.7 times, according to StarMine data.
“Valuations are elevated at the moment and we know that the pace that equities are advancing at won’t be sustainable unless earnings continue to grow,” said Sandven.
At 10:53 a.m. ET (1553 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was up 70.87 points, or 0.36 percent, at 19,867.3, the S&P 500 was up 9.91 points, or 0.439086 percent, at 2,266.87 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 53.72 points, or 0.99 percent, at 5,466.26.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the technology index’s 1.29 percent jump leading the advancers.
Apple was up 1.5 percent, while IBM rose 2.1 percent.
Inovalon Holdings slumped 35.3 percent to $9.60. The healthcare data analytics company’s fourth-quarter revenue forecast came in below expectations.
VeriFone Systems rose 8.7 percent to $17.88 after the payment card machine maker’s quarterly results beat estimates.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,436 to 1,389. On the Nasdaq, 1,401 issues rose and 1,249 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 31 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 136 new highs and 23 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)