Major Averages Holding On To Gains As Fed Decision Looms

After an early move to the upside, stocks remain mostly positive in afternoon trading on Wednesday. The major averages are extending the notably upward move seen over the two previous sessions, further offsetting the steep drop seen last week.

Currently, the major averages are off their best levels of the day but holding on to gains. The Dow is up 189.11 points or 0.6 percent at 34,297.75, the Nasdaq is up 34.08 points or 0.3 percent at 11,290.90 and the S&P 500 is up 17.92 points or 0.5 percent at 4,037.57.

The strength on Wall Street comes as traders look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated monetary policy announcement this afternoon.

With the Fed widely expected to slow the pace of interest rate increases to 50 basis points, traders are likely to pay close attention to the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for future rate hikes.

Recent data showing a slowdown in the pace of price growth has led to some optimism the Fed will not raise rates as high as previously feared.

The Fed is not likely to make any firm commitments, however, as a slew of key data will be released before the next monetary policy meeting in late January/early February.

Positive sentiment may have been generated in reaction to a Labor Department report showing import prices declined for the fifth consecutive month in November.

The Labor Department said import prices slid by 0.6 percent in November after falling by a revised 0.4 percent in October.

Economists had expected import prices to decrease by 0.5 percent compared to the 0.2 percent dip originally reported for the previous month.

The annual rate of import prices growth slowed from 4.2 percent in October to 2.7 percent in November, which reflected the slowest year-over-year growth since January 2021.

Sector News

Transportation stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the Dow Jones Transportation Average up by 1.4 percent.

Within the sector, shares of Delta Air Lines (DAL) have moved notably after the airline raised its fourth quarter earnings forecast and provided upbeat full-year guidance.

Considerable strength also remains visible among software stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent gain being posted by the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index.

Pharmaceutical, utilities and biotechnology stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index dipped by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index slipped by 0.2 and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction over the course of the session. Currently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.3 basis points at 3.514 percent.

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