March 1st, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street drifts near its record ahead of the Fed’s announcement on rates

By Elaine Kurtenbach And Matt Ott, The Associated Press on December 13, 2023.

Statues adorn the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street is drifting near its all-time high ahead of an afternoon announcement from the Federal Reserve that could show whether all the optimism is warranted. The S&P 500 was 0.1% higher Wednesday, just 3.1% below its record set early last year. The Dow was down 6 points, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.3% higher. Big Tech stocks were helping to lead the way as Treasury yields eased after a report showed inflation at the wholesale level was a touch cooler than expected. The Fed in the afternoon will release projections showing where policy makers expect interest rates to head.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Wall Street inched up modestly Wednesday ahead of a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve on interest rates.

Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrials each rose about 0.1% before the opening bell.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 climbed to its highest level since early 2022, slightly below its record high, after a report showed inflation in the United States is behaving pretty much as expected. That has reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve will stand pat on interest rates when it announces its next move Wednesday afternoon.

The inflation report showed U.S. consumers paid prices for gasoline, food and other living costs last month that were 3.1% higher overall than a year earlier, slightly below October’s 3.2% inflation and exactly in line with economists’ expectations.

The Fed has already yanked its main interest rate from virtually zero early last year to more than 5.25%, its highest level since 2001. It’s hoping to slow the economy and hurt investment prices by exactly the right amount: enough to stamp out high inflation but not so much that it causes a steep recession.

In early trading Wednesday, Pfizer fell more than 7% after the drugmaker issued sales and profit forecasts for next year that are short of Wall Street’s targets. Sales of Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid and the vaccine Comirnaty slid 97% and 70%, respectively, during the most recent quarter as Pfizer and other pharma companies switched to selling on the commercial market rather than to governments.

Tesla is recalling nearly every vehicle it’s sold in the U.S., more than 2 million vehicles, to roll out a software update to fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when they use Autopilot. Documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators say the company will send out a software update to fix the problems.

Tesla shares are down about 1% before the bell.

In Europe at midday, Germany’s DAX gained 0.2% and the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.3%. Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.3%.

In Asian trading, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.3% to 32,926.35 after the Bank of Japan’s quarterly “tankan” report, released Wednesday, showed business sentiment among major manufacturers improved for a third straight quarter.

Shares in China declined on what analysts said was disappointment over a lack of major stimulus measures from a major economic planning conference that ended on Tuesday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.9% to 16,228.75 and the Shanghai Composite index was down 1.2% at 2,968.76. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1% to 2,510.66.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia was up 0.3% at 7,257.80. Taiwan’s Taiex edged 0.1% higher and Bangkok’s SET lost 1.3%.

In other trading Wednesday, a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude reversed course and picked up 54 cents to $69.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, it lost $2.71 to settle at $68.61.

Crude was trading above $93 in September but has tumbled more than 22% in the past three months as economies across the globe begin to slow. Crude prices are down 9% this month.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 28 cents to $73.52 per barrel. It fell $2.79 on Tuesday to $73.24 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 145.69 Japanese yen from 145.45 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0784 from $1.0793.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 climbed 0.5% to just below its all-time high set in early 2022. The Dow added 0.5% and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.7%.

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