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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

U.S. stocks are mixed as investors await Fed minutes

U.S. stocks are mixed as investors await Fed minutes
© Reuters.

 

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By Liz Moyer

Investing.com — U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday as investors tried to put last year’s gloom in the rearview mirror ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve’s meeting minutes later today.

At 10:34 ET (15:34 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 8 points or flat, while the S&P 500 was up 0.1% and the NASDAQ Composite was down 0.1%. All three indexes had opened higher to start the day.

The minutes, from the Fed’s December policy meeting, could provide clues on the outlook for interest rates this year after an aggressive campaign last year to tame inflation by hiking the benchmark rate in successive moves.

Rising interest rates put pressure on the growth sector of the stock market, weighing on big tech companies such as Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), which dropped below $2 trillion in market value on Tuesday for the first time since 2021.

Investors expect that the Fed will continue to raise interest rates, but at a slower pace than last year’s campaign. In December, the central bank raised rates by a half percentage point, which was lower than rate hikes in previous meetings. The market expects a quarter-point rate hike when the Fed next meets in February.

The Fed has also signaled that it intends to keep rates higher for longer this year and that the ultimate rate could rise above an early forecast of 5%. The minutes from December could hint at when policy makers could pause their rate hikes.

This week is a big one for labor data, as well. Employment is something the Fed has been closely watching as it tries to balance taming inflation with trying not to trigger a recession that would result in big job losses.

Job openings data for November showed the economy added more openings. The number was 10.46 million compared to expectations for 10 million, higher than expected. That sets up Friday’s closely watched report on jobs for December, including labor participation and the unemployment rate. The Fed has said it expects unemployment to drift higher this year. ISM manufacturing data also came out on Wednesday, with a reading of 48.4 versus the expectation for 48.5.

Shares of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) fell 5% after UBS cut its rating on the company’s shares to neutral from buy. Shares of Salesforce Inc (NYSE:CRM) rose 2.4% on plans to lay off 10% of its workforce.

Oil fell. Crude Oil WTI Futures were down 4.2% to $73.69 a barrel, while Brent Oil Futures were down 4% to $78.67 a barrel. Gold Futures were up 0.8% to $1861.

Source: Investing.com

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