Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Wall St edges up on telecom gains; Fed meet in focus

Illustration Chad Crowe Illustration Chad Crowe
Debra Rodriguez | 21 September, 2017, 01:45

At 12:33 p.m. ET (1633 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 44.65 points, or 0.2 percent, at 22,376, the S&P 500 was up 3.79 points, or 0.15 percent, at 2,507.66 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 9.73 points, or 0.15 percent, at 6,464.37.

Wall Street moved higher, paring some gains after rallying to record highs amid optimism about the USA economic outlook and corporate profits, as investors eyed a meeting by the Federal Reserve which is set to tighten monetary policy. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 2.78 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,506.65, hitting its fifth record closing high in the last six sessions.

"We had suspected that the recent softness of core inflation could persuade officials to hold off on the next rate hike until next year", said Andrew Hunter, US economist at Capital Economics.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that she expects that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will impact the American economy, but that those effects are unlikely to damage economic growth long-term.

"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.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved slightly higher ahead of the Fed announcement.

However, the biggest determinant (a December rate hike) will be how the equity and bond markets react to the reduction of Fed's bond portfolio, said Frederick. Inflation has been kept in check, despite an otherwise healthy labor market, which should theoretically lift prices and inflation.

The central bank is likely to say that it will start unwinding its holdings of about $4.2 trillion in bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

Data showed USA homebuilding fell for a second straight month in August as a rebound in the construction of single-family houses was offset by weakness in the multifamily home segment. On the Nasdaq, 1,365 issues rose and 1,320 fell.

See:MarketWatch's economic calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic).

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals ( ALNY ) is posting a substantial gain after the biopharmaceutical company reported positive trial results for its treatment of a rare genetic disease.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) advanced 1.2% and Goldman Sachs (GS) increased 1% to be among the top gainers on the Dow.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) slipped 0.7%, even as the software major late Tuesday increased its dividend to 42 cents a share (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/microsoft-hikes-quarterly-dividend-announces-changes-to-board-of-directors-2017-09-19). While the UK's FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1%, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 both crept up by 0.1%.

The Dow rose as advances in shares of General Electric and those of Caterpillar, recently up 2.2 percent and 1.9 percent respectively, outweighed declines in shares of Apple and those of Nike, recently down 1 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.

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