U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday after fears eased that the Federal Reserve would strongly signal it would raise interest rates in June, though a slump in Apple shares weighed on the Nasdaq index.
Stocks in the telecom and utilities sectors, seen as proxies for fixed income returns when Treasury yields are expected to remain low, rose sharply after the Fed's announcement. That indicates market participants expect U.S. government yields to remain subdued.
"The big takeaway here is they (the Fed) continued to be positive on the domestic economy," said John Bailer, senior portfolio manager at The Boston Company Asset Management. "They have taken out some of the risk on the global economy."
"It is slightly hawkish in my mind but not enough to get the market worried about it."
Economists polled by Reuters expect two increases this year but futures prices show traders do not expect a raise until at least September according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.
The Fed next meets on June 14-15. While the labour market continues to gain strength, inflation remains below the central bank's 2 percent target and mixed economic data could cloud the path to future rate hikes.
The technology sector remained the largest weight on the market after Apple (AAPL.O) slumped more than 6 percent following its first revenue decline in over a decade.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 37.64 points, or 0.21 percent, to 18,027.96, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.12 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,091.58 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 45.60 points, or 0.93 percent, to 4,842.68.
Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) shares hit their highest level since May 2015 after the energy giant raised its quarterly dividend to 75 cents from 73. The dividend hike comes a day after Standard & Poor's cut Exxon's credit rating, in part for being too generous with shareholders.
First-quarter earnings from S&P 500 components are expected to have fallen 6.9 percent from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Of the 209 companies that have reported, 59 percent reported revenue above analyst expectations, just short of the average 60 percent since 2002.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.79-to-1 ratio while on the Nasdaq a 1.22-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 56 new highs and 14 new lows.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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