Opening Bell Report

The markets opened higher ahead of a decision on interest rates with economists expecting the Federal Reserve to stand pat. The Dow rose 51 points to 11,858 while Nasdaq surged 30 points to 2398.

On the upside

MasterCard (NYSE: MA) agreed to make 12 quarterly payments of $150 million to American Express (NYSE: AXP) to settle an antitrust lawsuit.

Countrywide (NYSE: CFC) shareholders were expected to approve the proposed $4 billion buyout by Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) this morning.

Retailer Pier 1 Imports (NYSE: PIR) withdrew its offer to buy rival Cost Plus (Nasdaq: CPWM) for $88 million.

On the downside

Industrial parts manufacturer Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROC) lowered its full-year profit guidance due to slowing sales in the U.S. and Europe.

Glass maker Apogee Enterprises (Nasdaq: APOG) reaffirmed its full-year outlook, but posted a decline in 1st quarter profits.

American Greetings (NYSE: AM) posted lower 1st quarter earnings. The 2nd largest greeting card company in the U.S. blamed the results on higher costs from the launch of a new line of cards in Canada.

In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin of 3 to 1 on the NYSE and by more than 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks gained 9 points to 717.

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