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U.S. stocks are mixed as investors look to Fed's rate meeting

Published 09/18/2023, 11:08 AM
© Reuters.
- -- U.S. stocks were mixed on Monday morning as investors prepared for comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell this week, after the central bank's latest decision on interest rates.

At 10:58 ET (14:58 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 20 points or 0.1% while the S&P 500 was up 0.1% and the NASDAQ Composite was down 0.05%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average squeezed out a small increase last week, while the broad-based S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped for the second consecutive week.

Fed meeting looms large

The latest policy-setting meeting by the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to dominate activity this week, with the two-day get together scheduled to conclude on Wednesday.

The U.S. central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates steady at a range of 5.25% to 5.50%, and thus investors will be looking more for clues from policymakers about their plans for borrowing costs during the rest of the year. Powell's remarks at his press conference Wednesday afternoon could provide some hints on the direction the Fed will take.

Data released last week saw consumer prices record the biggest jump in 14 months in August, but this was largely down to higher fuel costs, as the underlying figure decelerated to its slowest rate in almost two years.

“As with the June hold decision, the Fed is set to suggest that the decision should be interpreted as part of its process of a slowing in the pace of rate hikes rather than an actual pause,” said analysts at ING, in a note. “While inflation is moderating, it is still too high and with the jobs market remaining very tight and activity holding firm, the Fed can’t take any chances.”

The NAHB housing index reading was 45, lower than the 50 expected. Investors will also be looking for progress in lawmakers' talks to avoid the fourth partial U.S. government shutdown in a decade.

Instacart IPO ahead

Delivery platform Instacart is expected to price its initial public offering shares tonight, seeking a valuation of approximately $9.6 billion. The new listing, expected to start trading in New York as early as Tuesday, could test investor appetite for IPOs after last week's pop for chip designer Arm Holdings ADR (NASDAQ:ARM). Shares of Arm are down about 6% in trading on Monday.

Separately, shares of Clorox (NYSE:CLX) were down 1% after it warned that production disruptions caused by a cyberattack in August could result in a material impact to first quarter financials.

Negotiators to resume auto strike talks

Negotiators representing the auto giants – General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F) and Stellantis (NYSE:STLA) – are set to resume talks with the United Auto Workers union later Monday, seeking to end one of the most crippling strikes in decades.

The strikes have halted production at three plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri that produce the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Colorado, along with other popular models. The union initially asked for pay raises of about 40%, while auto makers have offered pay raises closer to 20%.

Crude continues to rally on supply tightness

Oil prices headed higher Monday, continuing to rally on the back of expectations of a tighter market ahead of a series of central bank policy-setting meetings this week.

The crude benchmarks have risen over 30% over the past three months following supply cuts from Saudi Arabia and Russia, which could push the market into a substantial deficit in the fourth quarter.

Traders will be watching decisions and commentary by central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, this week on interest rate policies, and key economic data out of China.

(Oliver Gray contributed to this item.)


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