Stock market news live updates: Stocks trade mixed ahead of Fed decision, tech stocks slide

Stocks were mixed Wednesday morning as investors awaited a key monetary policy decision and updated economic outlook from the Federal Reserve. Treasury yields climbed, and the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note jumped to more than 1.65%.

The S&P 500 fell about 0.4%, while the Dow traded just above the flat line. The Nasdaq dropped 1% as technology stocks resumed their declines amid the move higher in Treasury yields. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, hovered around 20 after dropping to a pandemic-era low of 19.3 on Tuesday, or the lowest level in a year following months of virus-related anxiety in the markets.

Investors are looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s March monetary policy decision Wednesday afternoon, along with Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference later in the day. The commentary will elucidate the central bank’s assessment of the economy in recovery, and help signal to investors how soon a tweak to the current monetary policy posturing might take place. For now, the Fed has signaled it will keep monetary policy loose, with benchmark interest rates near zero and asset purchases at a clip of $120 billion per month, as the economic recovery takes place.

“Generally speaking, I think the best move is no move,” Jack Manley, JPMorgan Asset Management global market strategist, told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday. “Certainly we’re not going to see any immediate changes to policy, but I think markets are kind of anxious about the language that the Fed will be using to account for the fact that things have been a whole lot better than I think initially anticipated since at least their last meeting.”

“You have more stimulus than expected, a more successful vaccine rollout than expected, a more resilient labor market that’s bounced back faster than expected and of course oil prices that have risen I think a whole lot more than was expected,” he added. “So the best thing I think we could get out of the Fed is an acknowledgement that growth is picking up, that the recovery story is more durable, that the worst is behind us but that there is no immediate pressing risk of inflation … that’s the green light for investors to keep this party rolling.”

Fears that a rapid rise in inflation might prompt a quicker-than-expected tightening of monetary policy has kept investors on edge over the past month, spurring a selloff in technology names earlier in March and accelerating a rotation into cyclical stocks like energy and bank shares. Still, Powell will more than likely continue telegraphing that progress in the economic recovery remains far below the threshold to trigger a Fed move, according to many economists.

“We expected Mr. Powell to argue forcefully that talk of a near-term policy response to events which have not yet happened, and might not happen at all, or might happen much later than currently expected, is premature,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note.

9:30 a.m. ET: S&P 500 and Dow drift ahead of Fed decision; Nasdaq slides

Here’s where markets were trading after the opening bell Wednesday morning:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -15.66 points (-0.4%) to 3,947.05

  • Dow (^DJI): +5.75 points (+0.02%) to 32,831.7

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -140.47 points (-1.04%) to 13,331.23

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.59 (-0.91%) to $64.21 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$3.20 (-0.18%) to $1,727.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +4.3 bps to yield 1.666%

8:30 a.m. ET: Housing starts slid by the most since April 2020 in February

New-home building plunged at the fastest rate since April 2020 in February, falling much more than expected as severe weather last month and higher interest rates weighed on housing market activity.

Housing starts slumped 10.3% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.421 million, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. This followed an upwardly revised drop of 5.1% in January. Consensus economists were looking for February’s decline to come in at just 1.3%, according to Bloomberg consensus data.

Building permits, which serve as an indicator of future homebuilding, slid by 10.8%. This also outpaced the drop of 7.2% expected for the month, and more than reversed an upwardly revised jump of 10.7% in January.

7:19 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures point to a mixed open

Here’s where markets were trading as of 7:19 a.m. ET Wednesday morning:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,957.5, down 5 points or 0.13%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 32,861.00, up 26 points or 0.08%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,087.75, down 63.75 points or 0.48%

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.75 (-1.16%) to $64.05 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$0.90 (-0.05%) to $1,730.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +3.4 bps to yield 1.6257%

6:01 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures open slightly higher

Here were the main moves in markets as of 6:01 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,969.00, up 6.5 points or 0.16%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 32,873.00, up 38 points or 0.12%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,173.25, up 21.75 points or 0.17%

U.S. flags fly out in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York, U.S., February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S. flags fly out in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York, U.S., February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

Read more from Emily:

What's your reaction?

In Love
Not Sure

You may also like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in:News