NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks crept higher in early trading on Tuesday, putting the market on track for its third gain in a row. Global stock markets rallied on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will put off an interest rate increase until late in the year.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,083 as of 10:12 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,926, while the Nasdaq composite picked up 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,932.
DELIVERY: FedEx said it reached an agreement to take over TNT Express, one of Europe's largest delivery companies, for 4.4 billion euros, or $4.8 billion. If shareholders approve of it, the companies expect to wrap up the deal in the first half of 2016. FedEx's stock surged $6.50, or 4 percent, to $173.29.
DEALS: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway plans to take a nearly 10 percent stake in Axalta Coating Systems, which makes specialized coatings for cars and trucks. Berkshire is buying 20 million shares for $28 from The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. Axalta, which went public in November, jumped $1.59, or 6 percent, to $29.90.
EUROPE: In Europe's first day of trading since the Easter holidays, Germany's DAX gained 1.2 percent, while France's CAC-40 rose 1.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 added 1.7 percent.
RATE SIGNAL: Investors were reassured by comments from William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve's New York branch, who said on Monday that rate increases will be "shallow." That added weight to the belief that the Fed will wait until the last quarter of the year before raising its key interest rate. The Fed has held rates at near zero since the financial crisis, helping to drive a rally in stock markets.
QUOTE: In a note to clients, Evan Lucas of IG Markets said Dudley's opinion that a negative reaction by stock markets to an interest rate hike would "slow us down" was confirmation the Fed has used monetary policy to create a "wealth effect." ''It's a simple idea: make people feel wealthier and they will consume more," Lucas said. "It is why the market is pricing in an October move and why most now believe, as Mr. Dudley himself stated, that the rate rise will be shallow."
CENTRAL BANKS: Australia's central bank left its key interest rate unchanged at 2.25 percent, but left the door open for a rate cut later this year, saying "further easing of policy may be appropriate over the period ahead" to foster growth. India's central bank also left its main lending rate unchanged, taking a break after two cuts in January and March. The Reserve Bank of India cited a strengthening economy and favorable inflation.
ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.5 percent and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 1.3 percent. South Korea's Kospi was steady and India's Sensex declined 0.6 percent. Hong Kong's market was closed for a holiday.
CRUDE: Benchmark U.S. crude was little changed at $52.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 1.92 percent from 1.90 percent Monday.