With traders looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement, stocks are turning in a mixed performance in morning trading on Wednesday. The Dow and the S&P 500 have moved to the upside, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq has turned lower over the course of the morning.
Currently, the major averages remain on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Nasdaq is down 12.58 points or 0.1 percent at 11,177.74, the Dow is up 153.19 points or 0.6 percent at 28,148.79 and the S&P 500 is up 9.93 points or 0.3 percent at 3,411.13.
The mixed performance on Wall Street comes ahead of the Fed’s announcement of its latest monetary policy decision later this afternoon.
The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, but investors are likely to pay close attention to any tweaks to the accompanying statement.
The central bank’s latest economic projections may also attract attention, with many economists expecting the Fed to forecast near-zero rates for years to come.
The Fed may seek to calm the markets following recent volatility, although some analysts have questioned how much more the central bank can do given its ultra-loose monetary policy.
Traders are also digesting a report from the Commerce Department showing a notable slowdown in the pace of retail sales growth in the month of August.
The Commerce Department said retail sales rose by 0.6 percent in August after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.9 percent in July.
Economists had expected retail sales to surge up by 1.0 percent compared to the 1.2 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.
Excluding sales by motor vehicles and parts retailers, retail sales climbed by 0.7 percent in August after leaping by a downwardly revised 1.3 percent in July.
Ex-auto sales were expected to increase by 0.9 percent compared to the 1.9 percent spike originally reported for the previous month.
The report also said closely watched core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, edged down by 0.1 percent in August after climbing by 0.9 percent in July.
“Consumers are being increasingly cautious with their outlays as the summer comes to a close,” said Gregory Daco, Chief U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
He added, “If Congress is unable to extend fiscal aid to US households in the coming weeks, the US economy will be particularly susceptible to a cutback in consumer outlays – especially from the lowest income families.”
Meanwhile, a separate report from the National Association of Home Builders showed homebuilder confidence jumped to a record high in September.
The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index shot up to 83 in September from 78 in August. Economists had expected the index to come in unchanged.
With the unexpected increase, the index rose to its highest level in the 35-year history of the series, surpassing the previous record high of 78 that was set last month and also matched in December 1998.
Oil service stocks have shown a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the Philadelphia Oil Service Index up by 2.8 percent.
The strength among oil service stocks comes amid a significant increase by the price of crude oil, with crude for October delivery jumping $0.97 to $39.25 a barrel.
Considerable strength is also visible among airline stocks, as reflected by the 2.5 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Airline Index. The index has reached its best intraday level in three months.
Natural gas, financial and computer hardware stocks are also turning in strong performances in morning trading.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index has edged down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.7 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back near the unchanged line after seeing initial strength. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 0.672 percent.
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