Wall St little changed ahead of Fed's policy meeting

Ivan Schwartz
September 21, 2017

While the expectation among analysts is for a hold on the benchmark interest rate, the accompanying statement will be closely watched for clues on whether committee members see another hike this year.

Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by 0.33 percent gain in the energy index as oil prices edged up to trade close to five-month highs.

At 8:34 a.m. ET (1234 GMT), S&P 500 e-minis were up 2 points, or 0.08 percent, with 55 contracts changing hands.

Wall Street moved higher, paring some gains after rallying to record highs amid optimism about the U.S. economic outlook and corporate profits, as investors eyed a meeting by the Federal Reserve which is set to tighten monetary policy. The Nasdaq Composite added 10.62 points, or 0.16 percent, to 6,465.26. The Fed's possible move to further roll back stimulus has not stemmed the greenback's weakness this year as other major central banks are considering steps to either slow their bond purchases or raise interest rates. The Fed is widely expected to announce on Wednesday that it will begin paring its bond holdings, with reductions likely to start in the coming months.

Western Digital slipped 4.36 percent after Japan's embattled Toshiba said it agreed to sell its semiconductor business to a group led by US private equity firm Bain Capital.

The central bank is likely to say that it will start unwinding its holdings of about $4.2 trillion in bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

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However, the biggest determinant (a December rate hike) will be how the equity and bond markets react to the reduction of Fed's bond portfolio, said Frederick.

Nike, a Dow component, fell 1.68 percent after a slew of price target cuts by brokerages on concerns about intensifying competition from Adidas.

Pfizer rose about 1 percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded stock to "overweight" from "equal weight".

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY) posted a standout gain after the biopharmaceutical company reported positive trial results for its treatment of a rare genetic disease.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.(BBBY) slumped almost 16%, marking its lowest close since 2009 and its second-worst drop on record, according to WSJ Market Group Data, after the retailer late Tuesday released earnings that widely missed forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bed-bath-beyond-earnings-miss-widely-stock-halted-2017-09-19).

Asian stocks closed mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-press-pause-ahead-of-fed-announcement-2017-09-19) as traders there remained cautious ahead of the Fed's call. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 are both almost flat.

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