Stock Market Struggles To Extend Records As Investors Await Fed's Signals

Xavier Trudeau
Juin 15, 2017

Consumer-staples and utilities shares were leading gains, up a little less than 1%, while financials declined 0.9% and the energy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/energy-sector-faces-worst-daily-drop-in-3-months-as-oil-prices-drop-2017-06-14) sector dropped 2%.

"It's a Fed day and the markets will likely not blink an eye as the FOMC raises rates by 25 basis points", said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in NY.

At 12:25 p.m. ET (1625 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average.DJI was up 6.72 points, or 0.03 percent, at 21,335.19.

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after data showed a build in USA crude stocks and OPEC reported a rise in its production despite a pledge to cut output.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4 points at 6,223.

"The market can absorb three rates hikes this year, though the Fed might pause in raising rates after this patch of soft economic data", Saccocia said.

Earlier, stock futures largely shrugged off news of shooting in Northern Virginia, where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/house-majority-whip-scalise-shot-at-congressional-baseball-practice-2017-06-14) and several people were injured after a gunman opened fire during a baseball practice. The suspect shooter is said to be in police custody.

Saccocia said the market may continue to ignore the shooting unless it turns out to be an organized plan involving more than just a lone shooter.

Economists are almost unanimous (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yellen-may-be-forceful-in-press-conference-when-defending-feds-interest-rate-path-2017-06-13) that the central bank will raise rates on Wednesday afternoon, so a key focus will be what Fed chief Janet Yellen and her colleagues say about the timing of subsequent hikes. Eastern Time, followed by Yellen's news conference at 2:30 p.m. "What matters most in today's statement is how the Fed signals the next rate hike and perhaps, even more critically, the reduction in the balance sheet".

Individual movers: Shares in Tesla Inc.(TSLA) traded 1.5% higher after the maker of electric cars scored another record close Tuesday. The dollar fell 0.5% against major currencies, while gold futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-turns-higher-as-soft-economic-reports-raise-doubts-about-fed-moves-after-wednesday-2017-06-14) jumped 0.6%, on pace to snap a five-session skid. The stocks provided the biggest boost to the S&P and the Dow.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) rose 0.8 percent to $133.14 after the company's flu drug succeeded in a mid-stage trial.Alexion (ALXN.O) was up 8.4 percent at $117.23 after the biotechnology company named Biogen's (BIIB.O) Chief Financial Officer Paul Clancy as its CFO.

European stocks advanced, while Asian markets (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-gain-as-tech-stocks-bounce-back-2017-06-13) closed mixed.

-Victor Reklaitis in London contributed to this article.

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