Wall St. Little Changed As Investors Await Fed Statement

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 were slightly higher on Wednesday while the Nasdaq composite edged lower, as investors assessed earning ahead of a statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve that could give clues regarding the timing of a rate hike.

Investors are focused on the outcome of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting with markets divided on whether it will take a hawkish or dovish stance. No move on rates is expected this week.

In a recent congressional testimony, Fed Chair Janet Yellen neither ruled out a September interest rate hike nor guided the market toward thinking it was a done deal. The statement is expected at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

U.S. interest rates have remained near zero for almost a decade and the Fed has said it will raise rates once it sees a sustained recovery in the economy.

Recent concerns surrounding the Greek debt crisis and the rout in Chinese markets have prompted some investors to bet that the Fed may hold off raising rates until the end of the year.

“If the Fed continues to be relatively neutral in its tone by not dropping any hints of an imminent rate hike probably markets will continue to stabilize,” Societe Generale strategist Alvin Tan said.

Data expected later in the day includes Pending Home Sales Index for June at 10 a.m. ET. The index is likely to show a slight increase of 1.0 percent, compared with a 0.9 rise in May.

At 9:52 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 17.57 points, or 0.1 percent, at 17,647.84, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 1.79 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,095.04.

The Nasdaq composite .IXIC was down 3.91 points, or 0.08 percent, at 5,085.30, dragged down by Apple (AAPL.O) and Akamai Technologies (AKAM.O), which fell 6.1 percent after its third-quarter forecast missed expectations.

Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher with the telecommunications index’s .SPLRCL 0.62 percent rise leading the advancers.

Pledges from Chinese regulators to buy shares to stabilize stocks if needed and hints of more policy easing from the central bank also soothed sentiments.

U.S. stocks ended sharply higher on Tuesday, breaking a five-day losing streak as attention shifted from trouble in Chinese equities to U.S. corporate earnings.

With second-quarter reports well under way, analysts now expect overall earnings of S&P 500 companies to edge up 0.3 percent and revenue to decline 4.0 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

While earnings are expected to increase this quarter, valuations remain a concern. The S&P 500 is trading near 16.9 times forward 12-month earnings, above the 10-year median of 14.7 times, according to StarMine data.

Companies scheduled to report after the bell include Facebook (FB.O) MetLife (MET.N) and Whole Foods Market WFM.N.

Twitter (TWTR.N) shares fell as much as 12.3 percent to a year-low of $32.06 after the microblogging company said its number of monthly average users rose at the slowest pace since it went public in 2013.

Yelp (YELP.N) slumped as much 28.5 percent to a nearly two-year low of $23.97 after the operator of consumer review website Yelp.com, reported a surprise loss and forecast revenue for the current quarter that fell far below market expectations.

Gilead Sciences (GILD.O) rose 4.4 percent to $118 after the company raised its outlook for 2015 product sales by $1 billion.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,370 to 1,328. On the Nasdaq, 1,374 issues fell and 920 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 18 new 52-week highs and one new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 28 new highs and 28 new lows.