Wall St little changed ahead of Fed’s policy meeting

NEW YORK: US stocks were little changed in morning trading on Tuesday as investors avoided taking major bets ahead of the two-day Federal Reserve meeting that is expected to roll out a plan to pare the central bank’s bond holdings.

The Dow, however, managed to climb to a fresh record after open, helped by Chevron’s 0.9% rise.

Investors do not expect the central bank to increase interest rates in the meeting but will closely watch Fed chair Janet Yellen’s views on inflation, which remains stuck below the Fed’s 2% target rate.

“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.

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

Any reduction in the balance sheet could make it harder for banks and investors to borrow certain Treasuries in the repurchase agreement market, making it more difficult and expensive to bet on or protect against interest rate increases.

Investors are also watching US President Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly where he is expected to urge UN member states to increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapon ambitions.

At 9:38am ET (1338 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 21.79 points, or 0.1%, at 22,353.14, the S&P 500 was up 1.13 points, or 0.04%, at 2,505 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 4.18 points, or 0.06%, at 6,458.82.

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

Best Buy fell more than 7% after the No.1 US electronics retailer provided financial targets for 2021.

Tesla was down 1.86% after Jefferies started coverage of the electric car maker’s stock with ”underperform”.

Nike fell 1.62%, pulling the Dow down the most, after a slew of price target cuts by brokerages on concerns about intensifying competition from Adidas.

Bob Evans Farms rose about 6% after packaged foods company Post Holdings said it would buy the frozen meals maker for about US$1.5bil.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,386 to 1,005. On the Nasdaq, 1,248 issues rose and 977 fell. – Reuters