Federal Reserve starts 2-day policy meeting
U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq turning lower after a modestly higher open, as investors traded skittishly ahead of the start of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy-setting meeting.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.17% rose 23 points, or 0.1%, to 20,938. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.10% slipped less than a point to trade at 2,388, essentially unchanged on the day. While technology shares XLK, +0.29% gave support to the benchmark index, with the sector up 0.3%, financials XLF, -0.17% dropped 0.4% and limited a broader advance.
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.08% retreated 3 points to 6,089, flat on the day. Earlier, the teach-heavy benchmark set a new intraday record of 6,102.72, its second such record of the past two days.
The Nasdaq was supported by Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.65% the largest U.S. company by market cap, which rose 0.8% and hit a record of its own. The iPhone maker was set to report quarterly earnings after the closing bell. See:Apple earnings preview.
Earnings: A raft of corporate quarterly results hit ahead of the opening bell. Shares of Merck & Co. Inc. MRK, +0.42% climbed 0.3% while those of fellow drugmaker Pfizer Inc. PFE, -1.04% sank 1.5%. Both companies reported their results before the market opened.
Luxury-goods retailer Coach Inc. COH, +10.82% popped 11% after it reported results that topped analyst forecasts.
Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. LL, -17.08% plummeted 16% after posting a bigger loss than forecast.
Aetna Inc. AET, +0.93% added 1.6% after the health-care company’s adjusted earnings topped expectations.
Shares of ConocoPhillips COP, -1.54% lost 1.5% after the oil company unexpectedly swung to a loss in the first quarter.
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Stock movers: Shares of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. AMD, -18.50% tumbled 17% a day after it announced a $73 million quarterly loss.
Shares of Angie’s List Inc. ANGI, +60.78% soared 60% after IAC/InterActiveCorp.IAC, +14.62% late Monday confirmed it is buying the consumer-recommendation website for $8.50 a share. Shares of IAC rose 17%.
Economic news: The Fed will release its policy statement at the conclusion of its two-day meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.
While the central bankers are expected to keep rates on hold at this meeting, analysts are looking for any comments on the recent slowdown in U.S. economic activity. The U.S. gross domestic product for the first quarter grew 0.7%, the slowest pace of growth in three years, data out on Friday showed.
“Will the Fed acknowledge a slowdown in growth and thus send rate hike expectations lower for 2017? Or are these factors only a temporary drag affected by the Easter bank holiday weekend and a delay in tax refunds, which is likely to be reversed in Q2?” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a note.
“The Fed’s statement should be answering these questions, and based on that, traders will act,” he said.
The U.S. central bank is currently expected to raise rates two more times this year.
There are no major economic data releases on the calendar for Tuesday, but monthly auto sales are expected to trickle out through the day.
Stock markets in Asia closed mainly higher, lifted by regional tech companies.
Oil prices CLM7, -0.92% dipped 0.1%, while metals GCM7, +0.08% were mixed. The ICE Dollar Index DXY, -0.06% was flat.