US stocks climb as investors await policy guidance from the Fed

Reuters

  • US stocks climbed on Wednesday as investors prepared for updated outlooks and policy commentary from the Federal Reserve.
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell is set to speak following the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee’s two-day meeting. The meeting is the first to take place since the central bank updated its monetary policy framework in August.
  • Strong earnings from FedEx and Adobe lifted indexes in early trading.
  • Retail sales for August grew just 0.6%, missing the average economist estimate of 1%. The reading also marks a slowdown from July’s 1.2% growth.
  • Oil prices increased on reports of US stockpiles falling by 9.5 million barrels last week. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 3.2%, to $39.49 per barrel.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities gained on Wednesday as investors cheered strong earnings reports and looked to the Federal Reserve for policy updates.

FedEx and Adobe both beat expectations for quarterly earnings after markets closed on Tuesday. The two stocks swung higher in early trading and boosted major indexes.

The Federal Open Market Committee ends its two-day monthly meeting on Wednesday afternoon, its first such gathering since the central bank unveiled its updated policy framework in August.

Policymakers are expected to maintain near-zero rates and issue a quarterly update on its outlook for gross domestic product, inflation, and unemployment. The central bank may also issue new guidance for how long it expects to maintain extremely accommodative monetary policy.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET market open on Wednesday:

  • S&P 500: 3,412.14, up 0.3%
  • Dow Jones industrial average: 28,052.60, up 0.2% (57 points)
  • Nasdaq composite: 11,226.46, up 0.3%

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“The Fed has made abundantly clear that policy rates will remain pinned near zero for as far as the eye can see,” Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, said. “Yet, markets will be impatient for additional guidance on how they will utilize their broader toolkit if they want inflation to hit 2% over the forecast horizon, let alone overshoot it.”

Tech stocks slowed their roll on Wednesday after rebounding in recent sessions. The sector has endured intense volatility through September as investors weigh historically high valuations against the firms’ earnings strength through the pandemic.

Investors also grappled with weaker-than-expected retail sales data. August sales grew just 0.6%, missing economist estimates of 1% and sinking from July’s 1.2% growth. The reading marks the fourth-straight increase since spending cratered in April, but also shows a continued slowdown as economic stimulus dried up throughout last month.

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Kodak shares surged after an internal investigation found stock trades made by CEO Jim Continenza around the time the Trump administration revealed a $765 million loan to the firm didn’t violate company rules.

Sports-betting platform DraftKings rose after announcing an exclusive deal with the New York Giants. The company will operate online wagers, a sportsbook, and a virtual lounge on game days, according to a press release.

Spot gold climbed as much as 1% to $1,973.60. The US dollar extended its decline and Treasury yields fell slightly.

Crude oil futures jumped after the American Petroleum Institute reported US inventories falling by 9.5 million barrels last week, according to Bloomberg. West Texas Intermediate crude gained as much as 3.2%, to $39.49 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international standard, climbed 2.8%, to $41.66 per barrel, at intraday highs.

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