Wall St. flat as Fed meet kicks off; Nasdaq hits record

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Tanya Agrawal

(Reuters) – Wall Street was little changed on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq Composite edging lower after eking out another record high, as the Federal Reserve’s meeting kicks off.

While the Fed is widely expected to stand pat on interest rates, investors are awaiting the central bank’s statement, due on Wednesday, for clues regarding the future path of rate hikes.

“While no one expects any changes to policy, the 500-word statement will probably provide some direction to the dollar,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.

“‘Will the Fed acknowledge a slowdown in growth and thus send rate hike expectations lower for 2017?’ The Fed’s statement should be answering these questions, and based on that, traders will act.”

Strong corporate earnings for the first quarter have largely outweighed concerns about patches of weak economic data, including a report last week that showed the U.S. economy grew at its slowest pace in three years in the first quarter.

At 9:50 a.m. ET (1350 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 5.59 points, or 0.03 percent, at 20,919.05. The S&P 500 <.SPX> was down 1.45 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,386.88 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was down 6.52 points, or 0.11 percent, at 6,085.09.

Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the industrials index’s <.SPLRCI> 0.34 percent rise leading the advancers.

Investors are bracing for another heavy week of corporate reports to see if quarterly earnings will keep on exceeding expectations.

Overall, profits at S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 13.6 percent in the first quarter, the most since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of Apple <AAPL.O> rose as much as 0.8 percent to $147.69, hitting a record high for the second straight day. The stock was the biggest boost on the S&P and Nasdaq. The iPhone maker is due to report results after the close of market.

Dow component Pfizer <PFE.N> was down 1.2 percent at $33.36 after the drugmaker’s quarterly revenue missed estimates.

MasterCard <MA.N> rose 2.1 percent to $118.73 as the world’s second-largest payments network’s quarterly profit rose.

Advanced Micro Devices <AMD.O> tumbled 16.2 percent to $11.45 after the chipmaker’s second-quarter gross margins forecast raised some concerns.

Coach <COH.N> rose 6.2 percent to $41.12 after the handbag maker reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,321 to 1,263. On the Nasdaq, 1,300 issues fell and 1,052 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 30 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 91 new highs and 19 new lows.

(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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