USA stocks close higher ahead as Fed meeting starts

Ivan Schwartz
September 22, 2017

The S&P 500 .SPX gained 1.59 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,508.24, clocking its sixth record closing high in the last seven sessions.

Shares of other food companies, including JM Smucker and Kellogg, were down about 2 percent.

After pushing the S&P above its 2,500-point milestone last week, investors were holding their fire as they awaited more clues on the timing of the next rate hike from Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

On Tuesday, the three major stock indexes of United States shut at record highs, with the financial stocks providing the biggest boost.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 6.68 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,461.32, also squeaking out a record closing high, slightly above its September 13 close.

"People are still, as they usually are the day before a Fed announcement, kind of in a wait-and-see mode", said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research.

At 11:02 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.88 points, or 0.01 percent, at 22,368.92, the S&P was down 1.73 points, or 0.07 percent, at 2,504.92 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 26.50 points, or 0.41 percent, at 6,434.82.

On the USA economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected decrease in initial jobless claims in the week ended September 16th. A separate report on business confidence showed optimism among chief executive officers reached its highest level since early 2014.

USA stock indexes slipped on Thursday as investors braced for a third interest rate hike this year and the United States ordered new sanctions against North Korea.

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"The Fed had investors on edge already".

"If I'd be watching anything, it would be primarily with regard to their plans to raise rates in December, which now the market has a 50-50 odds on", said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

"That's the most important aspect here", Blancato said.

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

The S&P's financial .SPSY sector ended 0.6 percent higher as banks benefit from higher rates.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that rise was one of many factors informing the bank's decision to begin shedding the bond holdings acquired to boost the USA economy after the financial crisis.

Interest rate futures traders are pricing in a 58 percent chance of a rate hike in that month, according to the CME Group's FedWatch Tool. Wells Fargo & Co. rose 65 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $53.36.

Energy shares gained after USA oil prices finished above $50 a barrel for the first time since late July.

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