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US markets end higher on Tuesday

The US markets ended higher on Tuesday on account of bargain hunting, with traders picking up stocks at reduced levels on the heels of the sharp drop seen over the two previous sessions. However, gains remained capped as traders remained on edge ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement on Wednesday. With the Fed widely expected to raise interest rates by a quarter point, traders are likely to closely scrutinize the central bank's accompanying statement and forecasts for clues about future rate hikes. Meanwhile, there was some cautiousness in the markets as fears that sluggish global growth will wash up on US shores continued to unsettle investors, and as uncertainty surrounding US-China trade relations.

On the economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a substantial increase in US housing starts in November, as a spike in multi-family starts more than offset a continued drop in single-family starts. The Commerce Department said housing starts jumped by 3.2% to an annual rate of 1.256 million in November from the revised October estimate of 1.217 million. Street had expected housing starts to edge down to a rate of 1.225 million from the 1.228 million originally reported for the previous month. The report also said building permits surged up by 5.0% to an annual rate of 1.328 million in November from the revised October rate of 1.265 million.

Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 82.66 points or 0.35 percent to 23675.64, Nasdaq gained 30.18 points or 0.45 percent to 6783.91 and S&P 500 was up by 0.22 points or 0.01 percent to 2546.16.

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