U.S. Stocks Close Nearly Flat As Fed Announcement Looms

With traders looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement on Wednesday, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Tuesday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq posted a modest loss, slipping 48.56 points or 0.3 percent to 14,090.22, while the Dow and the S&P 500 closed nearly flat. The Dow inched up 3.36 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 33,984.93 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.90 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 4,186.72.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as many traders stuck to the sidelines ahead of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy decision.

The Fed is widely expected to maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy, but traders will be paying close attention to any changes to the accompanying statement that may signal a shift in the near future.

A mixed reaction to the latest earnings news also contributed to the lackluster performance, with several big-name companies also reporting their quarterly results after the close of trading.

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) moved sharply lower even though the electric car maker reported better than expected first quarter results.

Conglomerates General Electric (GE) and 3M (MMM) also moved to the downside despite reporting first quarter earnings that beat expectations.

On the other hand, shares of UPS (UPS) spiked after the delivery giant reported first quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

In U.S. economic news, the Conference Board released a report showing consumer confidence reached its highest level since February of 2020 in the month of April.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index jumped to 121.7 in April after spiking to a revised 109.0 in March.

Economists had expected the consumer confidence index to rise to 112.0 from the 109.7 originally reported for the previous month.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.

Gold stocks showed a substantial move to the downside, however, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index tumbling by 2.3 percent.

The sell-off by gold stocks came amid a modest decrease by the price of the precious metal, as gold for June delivery edged down $1.30 to $1,778.80 an ounce.

On the other hand, oil stocks turned in a strong performance on the day, resulting in a 1.6 percent advance by the NYSE Arca Oil Index.

The rally by oil stocks came amid a sharp increase by the price of crude oil, with crude for June delivery jumping $1.03 to $62.94 a barrel.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.5 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dipped by 0.2 percent.

The major European markets also showed modest moves to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index closed just below the unchanged line, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both slipped by 0.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries moved steadily lower over the course of the session before closing firmly negative. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 5.2 basis points to 1.622 percent.

Looking Ahead

The Fed’s monetary policy announcement is likely to be in focus on Wednesday amid an otherwise quiet day on the U.S. economic front.

With regard to earnings news, Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), Advance Micro Devices (AMD), and Microsoft (MSFT) are among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today’s trading.

Boeing (BA), Spotify (SPOT), and Yum! Brands (YUM) are also among the companies due to report their results before the start of trading on Wednesday.

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