Wall Street Holds on to Gains; Fed Policy Meeting Eyed

(Reuters) -
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Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Monday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the pack, as investors awaited a key Federal Reserve meeting that is expected to lay the groundwork for an interest rate cut later this year.

The U.S. central bank is likely to leave borrowing costs unchanged at its two-day policy meeting starting Tuesday, but its statement will provide insight into the impact of the U.S.-China trade war, President Donald Trump’s push for a rate cut and weaker economic data on monetary policy.

Markets expect a cut in interest rates as early as July, and the S&P 500 index has risen 5% so far in June on the hope, but the rally lost steam in the past week.

“Most people do not think that there will be a rate cut day after, but they do not want to jump in and make any major asset reallocations until they get more guidance from the Fed,” said Mayra Valladares, managing principal at MRV Associates in New York.

“Investors want to see what language Fed officials use about recent economic data to see if the data will influence the Fed to cut rates later in the year.”

The Fed’s rate-setting committee is due to release its statement at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell holding a press conference shortly after.

Banking stocks, which tend to benefit from a rising interest rate environment, dipped 0.20%, while the broader S&P 500 financial sector edged down 0.28%.

The Nasdaq Composite index rose, as shares of marquee companies such Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc gained between 0.5% and 3%.

At 13:02 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 55.15 points, or 0.21%, at 26,144.76 and the S&P 500 was up 6.79 points, or 0.24%, at 2,893.77. The Nasdaq was up 61.55 points, or 0.79%, at 7,858.21.

Boeing Co gained 2.16% and lifted the Dow, after the plane maker raised its rolling 20-year industry forecast for passenger aircraft to $6.8 trillion.

Keeping the gains in check for the blue-chip index was a 4% decline in shares of Dow Inc after brokerage BMO Capital Markets downgraded the chemicals maker’s stock to “market perform” on rising macro uncertainty.

Shares of Walt Disney Co dropped 0.61% after a report that Imperial Capital had downgraded the entertainment conglomerate’s shares to “in line.”

Array Biopharma Inc surged about 57% after Pfizer Inc agreed to buy the drugmaker for $10.64 billion to beef up its cancer portfolio. Pfizer edged 0.3% lower.

Investors are also looking forward to the G20 summit at the end of the month for an update on the progress in talks to resolve the prolonged trade war between the United States and China.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.37-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.47-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 32 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 53 new highs and 71 new lows.