Stocks edge higher as Fed kicks off meeting

Stocks rose for a third day in a row Tuesday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closer to a record high. Investors seem to have accounted for the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will announce a slowing of its economic stimulus program later today.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34.95 to close at 15,529.73. The S&P 500 rose 7.16 to 1,704.76. The Nasdaq rose 27.85 to 3,745.70.

SPAWAR’s top civilian heads to new posting

The executive director of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic has left for a new job. Christopher Miller has been named program executive officer for the Department of Defense’s Healthcare Management Systems.

He is the department’s counterpart to the assistant secretary of information and technology at Veterans Affairs. He started Monday. Dave Monahan, SPAWAR’s director of management operations, will be acting executive director until a permanent replacement is selected.

Growth in holiday sales expected to slow in ‘13

NEW YORK — Coming off of a weak back-to-school shopping period, a research firm said Tuesday that it expects holiday sales growth will be slower this year during the crucial holiday season. Shoppers are also expected to visit fewer stores as they research purchases online.

Retail revenue in November and December should rise 2.4 percent during the biggest shopping period of the year, according to Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak. That compares with a 3 percent increase in 2012 from 2011.

U.S. consumer prices rise just 0.1% in August

WASHINGTON — U.S consumer prices barely rose last month, the latest sign that slow economic growth is keeping inflation tame.

The consumer price index increased just 0.1 percent in August, the Labor Department said Tuesday, after a 0.2 percent increase in July. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core prices also rose just 0.1 percent.

Penthouse owner files a bankruptcy petition

FriendFinder Networks, the owner of Penthouse magazine and a bevy of online dating and adult websites, filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday. The company said it was the “most efficient and cost-effective” way for it to improve its balance sheet.

FriendFinder, like many of its peers, has been struggling for some time with lower revenue as free adult content online has lessened demand for paid content. It also faces tough competition for its online dating sites. The company had a loss of $49.4 million in its last fiscal year.

Safeway adopts poison pill to prevent takeover

Safeway adopted a plan to prevent a hostile takeover after learning of a significant accumulation of its stock by an investor.

The announcement Tuesday sent shares of the grocer spiking 8 percent to a five-year high.

So-called “poison pill” plans allow existing shareholders to acquire more stock at a discounted rate to discourage a takeover by an outside entity. Jana Partners disclosed that it had amassed a 6.2 percent stake in Safeway’s shares.

Microsoft board boosts its dividend by 5 cents

Microsoft says its board has approved a 22 percent increase in the company’s quarterly dividend to 28 cents along with a new $40 billion stock buyback program. The new dividend represents an increase of 5 cents. The stock buyback program replaces the previous $40 billion program that was set to expire on Sept. 30.

Staff and wire reports