Wall Street higher ahead of expected Fed rate hike | Reuters
By Tanya Agrawal U.S. stocks were mostly higher on Wednesday, with investors counting down to the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, where the central bank is widely expected to raise rates for the first time this year.The Fed is scheduled to release its latest policy statement along with updated economic forecasts at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).
By Tanya Agrawal
U.S. stocks were mostly higher on Wednesday, with investors counting down to the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, where the central bank is widely expected to raise rates for the first time this year.The Fed is scheduled to release its latest policy statement along with updated economic forecasts at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT). Fed Chair Janet Yellen is due to hold a press conference half an hour later.Traders have priced in more than a 90 percent chance of a quarter point rate increase, according to Fed fund futures. Attention is turning to whether the U.S. central bank will signal an even faster pace of monetary tightening this year than the current three rate hikes that it projected at the December policy meeting.The U.S. economy has been strengthening, with the labor market nearing full employment and inflation perking up. Markets are also betting on a potential economic boost from President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal policies."Overall expectations are largely priced in that we will have a hike today and the question will be if the Fed will be a little bit more hawkish," said Myles Clouston, senior director at Nasdaq Advisory Services in New York.
"If inflation heads in the right direction, four hikes may be warranted. The key here is the Fed really needs to stay ahead of the curve so that they're not in a difficult position where they have to raise too quickly."At 11:04 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 38.96 points, or 0.19 percent, at 20,876.33 and the S&P 500 .SPX was up 6.78 points, or 0.28 percent, at 2,372.23.The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 6.38 points, or 0.11 percent, at 5,863.20.Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the energy index's .SPNY 1.07 percent rise leading the gainers.
Oil prices rebounded on Wednesday, lifted by a surprise drawdown in U.S. inventories and data from the International Energy Agency suggested OPEC cuts should create a crude deficit in the first half of 2017. [O/R]Shares of oil majors Exxon (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) were up about 0.4 percent. Economic data showed U.S. retail sales registered their smallest increase in six months in February.
Other data showed consumer prices barely rose in February but the underlying trend remained consistent with rising inflation. The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index ticked up 0.1 percent last month, after jumping 0.6 percent in January.Intel (INTC.O) fell 1.13 percent to $34.78 after Credit Suisse downgraded the chipmaker's stock.Twitter was down 2.3 percent at $14.96 after a number of prominent accounts on the microblogging website were hacked.Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,125 to 633. On the Nasdaq, 1,809 issues rose and 831 fell.The S&P 500 index showed 36 new 52-week highs and two new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 80 new highs and 32 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D'Silva & Shri Navaratnam)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.