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(Close): US stock markets reversed early losses to close higher as fresh data presented a mixed economic picture.

US consumer price inflation rose 0.4% in April, twice as much as expected, while new home starts fell 6.5%.

The Dow Jones closed up 27.48 points, or 0.16%, at 16,808.49 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 16.34 points, or 0.37%, to 4,337.23.

The S&P 500 gained 4.21 points, or 0.22%, to 1,941.99.

Traders were hoping for positive economic news on Wednesday from the Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee, which began a two-day monetary policy meeting.

"People want to hear things are getting better", said Mace Blicksilver from Marblehead Asset Management.

"No one wants to hear that we still need crisis interest rates."

Forest Oil Corp jumped nearly 15% after it emerged that a deal for the firm to be taken over by Sabine Oil & Gas was going ahead, despite earlier reports to the contrary.