Stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) are being pushed higher this morning by positive news on the inflation and housing frons, while they await the statement to be released at the end of the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting this afternoon.

Government data released this morning showed that the consumer price index (CPI) in November rose by 0.4%. The so-called core rate of inflation, excluding food and energy, was unchanged for the month. Energy costs drove up the CPI index last month, reported Ylan Q. Mui for The Washington Post. Energy prices rose 4.1% in November, led by gasoline prices. [For more stories on inflation, please see our inflation category.]

According to a government report issued today, home-building rebounded from a six-month low in November, with improvement in new home construction in all parts of the country. Construction of new homes rose by 8.9% and building permits for future construction rose by 6%. Hibah Yousef of CNNMoney reports that the extension of the $8000 homebuyer’s tax credit should have a positive impact on the housing market in the first half of 2010. [For more information on homebuilders, please see our homebuilders category.] Both the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund (NYSE: ITB) and the SPDR Homebuilders ETF (NYSE: XHB) are up solidly today – 1.5% and 1.25% respectively.

The Federal Trade Commission today sued chip maker Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), accusing it of using its dominant position to “stifle competition and strengthen its monopoly.” According to The New York Times, the FTC said in a statement that Intel “put the brakes on superior competitive products that threatened” its microchip market share. The company has faced similar antitrust challenges around the globe over recent years, particularly from Europe. [For more stories on the semiconductor sector, please visit our semiconductors category.]

Intel is down nearly 1.75% this morning. However, other semiconductor stocks are up strongly this morning. The iShares Goldman Sachs Semiconductor Index Fund (NYSE: IGW) is up nearly 2.2%. [For more stories on sector ETFs, please visit our sector ETFs category.]

Crude oil futures added to their gains after a weekly government report showed that U.S. inventories dropped by a larger-than-expected 3.69 million barrels and Iran test-fired another missile. Margot Habiby of Bloomberg also reports U.S. gasoline consumption in November rose by 1.5% from a year earlier. Oil is up $2.13, or 3%, to $72.82 a barrel. The United States Oil Fund (NYSE: USO) is up about 2.6%. [For more stories on oil, please visit our oil category.]

Tony D’Altorio contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.