U.S. Stocks Little Changed As Traders Look Ahead To Fed Minutes

After moving to the upside early in the session, stocks have fluctuated over the course of morning trading on Wednesday. Despite the choppy trading, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 reached new record intraday highs.

Currently, the major averages are little changed on the day. While the Dow is down 39.64 points or 0.1 percent at 34,537.73, the Nasdaq is up 0.94 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 14,664.58 and the S&P 500 is up 2.42 points or 0.1 percent at 4,345.96.

The lackluster performance on Wall Street comes as traders seem reluctant to make significant moves ahead of this afternoon’s release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting.

The minutes of the Fed’s mid-June meeting may shed additional light on the outlook for the central bank’s asset purchase program.

Economic projections provided following the conclusion of the two-day meeting pointed to an increase in interest rates in 2023.

The latest projections from Fed officials suggest interest rates will be increased to 0.6 percent in 2023 compared to previous projections indicating rates would remain at near-zero levels. Seven officials expect a rate hike as soon as 2022.

Meanwhile, the Fed said it plans to continue its bond purchases at a rate of at least $120 billion per month until “substantial further progress” has been made toward its goals of maximum employment and price stability.

In his post-meeting press conference, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said reaching the standard of “substantial further progress” is still “a ways off” and stressed the central bank would provide “advance notice” before making any changes to its asset purchases.

Energy stocks are extending the sell-off seen in the previous session, with another downturn by the price of crude oil weighing on the sector. Crude for August delivery is currently slumping $0.96 to $72.41 a barrel.

Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 3 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index is down by 2.3 percent.

Considerable weakness has also emerged among airline stocks, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index tumbling by 2 percent to a four-month intraday low.

On the other hand, housing stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index up by 1.2 percent.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has jumped by 1.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.4 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the strong upward move seen in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 6.7 basis points at 1.303 percent.

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