U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday after Standard & Poor's affirmed its ratings on debt-troubled Greece and as semiconductor shares gained on an Intel Corp product announcement.

S&P ended its review for a downgrade for Greece, saying the government's recent deficit reduction measures are supportive of the ratings. Concerns about Greek debt have been a drag on equities in recent weeks.

This is better than a lot of people were expecting, and it seems to take impending risk off the table, removing an overhang for the stock market, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

Intel contributed the most to the Dow's advance,

gaining 3.4 percent to $21.88 after it released its newest server chips, preparing for an expected rise in demand. The Philadelphia semiconductor index <.SOXX> gained 2.2 percent.

Investors are also looking ahead to a statement from the Federal Reserve, which is expected to hold interest rates near zero and say again that high unemployment and low inflation warrant holding borrowing costs exceptionally low for an extended period.

It sounds like the Fed won't be changing anything, though it is likely priced into the market if they do, Ablin said. However, once rates look primed to start going up, it's a different matter.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 18.97 points, or 0.18 percent, to 10,661.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 4.79 points, or 0.42 percent, to 1,155.30. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 10.39 points, or 0.44 percent, to 2,372.60.

General Electric Co gained 2.2 percent to $17.67 after the Dow component's chief financial officer said he expects the company's earnings and dividend to rise in 2011.

The U.S. dollar dipped on the expectation of low interest rates, lifting crude and gold prices and giving a boost to materials companies' shares. The S&P materials sector <.GSPM> rose 1.1 percent and was the top percentage gainer among S&P sectors.

Crude oil prices rose 2 percent, or $1.63, to $81.43 a barrel.

Data on Tuesday showed U.S. housing starts fell last month as winter storms in parts of the country disrupted home building, while a drop in import prices pointed to muted inflation pressures.

Harley-Davidson Inc shares gained 5.7 percent to $28.01 amid speculation that the motorcycle maker was the potential target of a leveraged buyout.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)