Wall Street ticks lower in choppy trading ahead of Fed minutes
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes dipped in choppy trading on Wednesday as investors cautiously awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting last month that could offer clues on the central bank’s views on inflation and an economic recovery.
The industrials, materials and healthcare sectors weighed the most on the S&P 500.
Massive fiscal stimulus and swift vaccinations prompted several Fed officials at the meeting last month to project interest rate increases as early as next year, opening up a gap with those who do not see rates rising until 2024 at the earliest.
“The Fed leadership has generally not been concerned with the recent rise in interest rates, suggesting it reflects a pickup in growth rather than inflation. Any signs of inflation is … generally expected to be transitory,” said Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at the Roosevelt Investment Group in New York.
“It will be interesting to see if the Fed held uniformly to this view in its meeting, or if members at least discussed actions the committee might take if rising rates posed a risk to economic growth.”
Value stocks, which include economically sensitive sectors, maintain a strong lead this year over their growth counterparts, dominantly tech-related firms.
However, a resurgence in demand for tech stocks in recent sessions amid renewed restrictions in Canada and parts of Europe has raised questions over the longevity of value trade.
Growth stocks outperformed value shares on Wednesday.
“We do not believe the reopening trade has run its course. The Biden administration’s infrastructure stimulus plans would only add fuel to this fire,” Benowitz said.
The upcoming earnings season and progress in a multi-trillion infrastructure proposal could decide the path forward for markets.
Analysts have raised their expectations for first-quarter S&P 500 profit increase to a 24.2%, according to Refinitiv IBES data as of April 1, versus 21% forecast on Feb. 5.
The sharp run up in earnings expectations could set up for disappointment, a market expert said.
JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said the United States could be in store for an economic boom through 2023 if more adults get vaccinated and federal spending continues.
At 11:47 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 52.86 points, or 0.16% , to 33,377.38, the S&P 500 lost 1.02 points, or 0.03 %, to 4,072.92 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 15.45 points, or 0.11 %, to 13,682.93.
Prison operator GEO Group fell about 19% after suspending quarterly dividend payments.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.7-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.4-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P 500 posted 28 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 93 new highs and 20 new lows.
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