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.

Intel was the top boost for the Dow index, gaining 3.2 percent to $21.85 after it released its newest server chips, preparing for an expected rise in demand. The Philadelphia semiconductor index <.SOXX> gained 2.1 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.

If the Fed does what is expected and gives us more of the same, the market will be in a sweet spot with low inflation expectations and improving economic indicators, said Channing Smith, vice president at Capital Advisors in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 29.47 points, or 0.28 percent, to 10,672.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 5.95 points, or 0.52 percent, to 1,156.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 11.51 points, or 0.49 percent, to 2,373.67.

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 shares. The S&P materials sector <.GSPM> rose 1.2 percent and was the top percentage gainer among S&P sectors.

Crude oil prices rose 2.5 percent to $81.82 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.

While the data was impacted by weather, it reinforces the view that housing will remain a significant drag on the economy, Smith said. All indications are that it remains too weak to stand on its own, without help from the government.

Harley-Davidson Inc shares gained 5.9 percent to $28.05 amid speculation that the motorcycle maker was the potential target of a leveraged buyout.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)