US stocks have barely budged today as the markets – after a two-day rally – await comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The S&P 500 was within 1% of its intraday record high, though a drop in Adobe weighed on the tech sector, and economic bellwether FedEx Corp hit a sour note in its outlook
By Paolo Palazzi-Xirinachs
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
And, geopolitical concerns related to Ukraine continued to influence investor mood. As of 1:30 PM EDT in New York, the Dow had risen 0.06% to 16,346.36, and the S&P 500 gained 0.07%, to 1,873.48. But the Nasdaq dropped 0.05%, to 4,331.096 in part due to Adobe and FedEx. Equities have rallied this week, buoyed by what looked like an easing of geopolitical concerns, though trading volume has been a tad light. The S&P 500 has climbed 1.7$ over the past two days, the best back-to-back performance for the benchmark index since early February.
The Fed was not expected to deviate from its current path when it announces its policy decision in a statement at 2:00 PM EDT, but market participants will be attuned to the subsequent news conference from Janet Yellen, her first as chair, for any clue on the speed of future stimulus cuts as well as how soon interest rates might be raised. But the Fed has surprised before and many economist think that tapering if not now is definitely in the books for the next FOMC meeting.
In other news, factory production rose in February by the most in six months as assembly lines churned out more cars, business equipment and chemicals, a month after snowstorms hampered deliveries of parts and materials. Employers last month added more workers than projected following the weakest two-month hiring gain in more than a year. The jobless rate rose from 6.6%, a five-year low, as more people entered the workforce. Retail sales climbed in February for the first time in three months, claims for unemployment benefits declined and consumer confidence improved, reports showed last week. Overall it does appear that the economy is getting better – and at least some of it is likely due to the rough winter starting to wind down
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